October 16, 2013
You will seldom see a more sobering example of the utter disrespect, silencing, censorship and complete removal of women and lesbian representation from public discourse regarding our rights as human beings than you will from the New York Times this evening.
The Times has initiated a male-only “debate” about the impact of attaching the transgender politic (which promotes and codifies noxious social sex roles and sex stereotypes against women) onto the lesbian and gay rights movement. Eliminated from this debate are the women and lesbians whose rights are directly at odds with this movement.
The New York Times culled ALL women from this discussion. They invited six men: four gay, and two male genderists (one gay: drag queen Laverne Cox from RuPaul’s “Drag Race”), and one straight (explicitly anti-lesbian activist Susan Stryker, who has campaigned to outlaw lesbian public gatherings, organizations and activism on the basis that they exclude men) to “decide” whether the LGBT movement should further support the anti-female sex roles and sex stereotypes championed by the transgenderist movement.
Missing from this discussion of women’s rights? Women. Missing from this discussion of the lesbian and gay movement? LESBIANS. All of us. Every single one. Total and complete lesbian and woman erasure.
Much like the recent assembly of all-male US legislators who convened to impose legal limits on our female right to control the reproductive capacity of our own bodies this “debate” will include none of the people involved. WOMEN. LESBIANS.
The “Grey Lady”, once considered a reliable balanced news outlet, has gone full-on …. irrelevant. There is a reason millions of people read blogs like mine while the Times goes out of business. That reason is WOMEN. Keep chatting amongst yourselves boys. Good luck with that bros.
“I don’t care if male privilege dies hard”- Free PDF of J. Michael Bailey’s ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen’
October 7, 2013
“Man Who Would Be Queen” author J. Michael Bailey surfaces to make a rare public appearance on memoirist Christine Benvenuto’s latest, which calls into question the claim of recently hired (white heterosexual male) NewYorkTimes columnist Jennifer Finney Boylan asserting that he is now a member of “one of the most marginalized groups in the country.” Boylan has built a successful career based solely on his transgender identity.
Christine has been censored and harassed (police being called during one bookstore reading incident) after publication of her memoir reflecting on the disintegration of her marriage to autogynephile crossdressing academic Jay (now “Joy”) Ladin. Transgender attorney and HuffPo columnist Dana Beyer, among other prominent individuals, personally campaigned for censorship of Christine Benvenuto’s work, even though they had not actually read it.
Excerpts from Bailey’s comments:
“J. Michael Bailey
I loved your book. So refreshingly honest and insightful. You had the courage to keep your eyes open. In contrast, in the NY Times this week there is a lukewarm review of a sister’s account of her financier brother’s transformation. Sounds like the same ol’.
If you are interested in learning more about the motivations of heterosexual men who become women, you can read my book (third section most relevant) here:
Some transsexual women tried to suppress the book by attacking me. (Talk about male privilege dying hard.) You can read about their attempts to ruin my life here:
“..one of the fundamental insights of the best science on transsexualism is that there is nothing fundamentally different between heterosexual crossdressers (as which many future transsexuals begin) and autogynephilic transsexuals (the kind that is motivated by the erotic desire to become women).”
“..both the fundamental difference and the inevitability of transition are false..”
“…I think that a careful (or even an ordinary without blinders) reading of Christine’s book shows how inaccurate her husband, then ex-husband, seemed regarding his history and motivations. Inaccurate enough to have helped inspire Christine’s book. Was this conscious dishonesty, unconscious dishonesty, delusion, or what? I suspect a bit of each.”
“Autogynephilic men who transition to become transwomen deserve some sympathy, and they have had mine. But their plight is much more akin to a normal heterosexual man’s midlife crisis decision to leave his wife for another woman than it is to their preferred narrative. The heterosexual man in midlife crisis also deserves some sympathy. But so does the family he is leaving.”
Bailey offers a free PDF of his book “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism”. Click the above link to read it.
Read Christine Benvenuto’s post on the dubious prospect of Boylan’s alleged marginalization titled “Male Privilege Dies Hard” and Bailey’s comments by clicking here: http://christinebenvenuto.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/male-privilege-dies-hard/
October 5, 2013
Oh Anonymous, a Snuggie helps ward off chill in mom’s basement during those long not leaving the house sessions.
Originally posted on Women's Space:
According to a Grand Jury indictment you can read here, federal prosecutors yesterday brought charges against 12 men and one woman [correction: all indicted were male-- Heart] for participating in Anonymous attacks against a number of websites for various reasons. I’m posting photos from a slideshow you can find here which identifies some Anonymous members (not necessarily the ones indicted yesterday), describes what they’ve done and criminal sentences they are serving in some instances. As you can see, these are not, as is commonly thought or stated, a bunch of teenage boys. This was of interest to me because of the 2007 Anonymous attacks which destroyed my and other women’s websites, boards and blogs and which caused and continue to cause much real life harm to many of us.
October 5, 2013
WordPress.com, administered by Automattic , apparently deflected their attacks but they managed to hack blogger (google) site RadFemCentral to disappear her site and harass her. They replaced her http://womensspace.wordpress.com/ site on the RadFemCentral aggregator with “womansspace dot org”, some weird fake site. HOLY SHIT! Hahahahahahaha! LMAO. Oh, you anonymous, you.
Anonymous are huge gaping women-hating turd-loving ASSHOLES!
The fucked up thing is I CAN’T REMOVE IT. Every time I try to replace the fake .org site with Heart’s site it reverts back to the fake one. However I can remove the fake one, so I have. This removes Heart’s site as well.
See Heart’s post about the shart-lovin’ Anonymous dipshits here: http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/grand-jury-indicts-13-members-of-anonymous/
October 2, 2013
By Brendan O’Neill, Editor of Spiked:
Trans activists really need to lighten up
Transsexuals’ histrionic response to every slight only confirms how flimsy their identity is.
Why are transsexual activists so sensitive to criticism? This is a serious question, not an insult. There must be some reason why the trans community, as it calls itself, is worse at taking criticism or tolerating insulting commentary than, say, the Christian community or the butch lesbian community, both of which also get flak on the internet and elsewhere but don’t tend to respond to it in the way trans types do.
Over the past fortnight we’ve had loads of histrionics from trans activists. Feminist Julie Bindel was hounded off a panel discussion at a British university because she once criticised trans people. Roseanne Barr, maker of the best sitcom of the Eighties, currently stands accused of ‘transphobia’ basically because she tweeted favourably about someone who criticised the trans identity. This follows the trans community’s successful removal of Julie Burchill’s trans-slamming article from the website of the Observer earlier this year. When I wrote a piece arguing that Bradley Manning is not a woman, despite his claims to the contrary, I was bombarded with suggestions that I should kill myself. This from trans activists who (ludicrously) held Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn responsible for the suicide of a trans schoolteacher and said the media must be careful never to criticise this community lest its members feel tempted to kill themselves.
Of course, ours is an age of super-sensitivity, when feeling offended, and more importantly loudly and proudly declaring your feelings of offence, has become the lifeblood of public discourse. But there are different degrees of offence-taking. Some groups seem more capable of riding out criticism than others. Yes, Christian outfits play the victim card and bleat to officialdom about feeling offended by an ad or an article, but mostly they just ignore web-based Christian-bashing, which is voluminous. Islamists are more sensitive, hollering for beheadings whenever someone mocks Muhammad or says the Koran is cobblers.
And the trans lobby is even more sensitive than that, reacting with censorious anger not only to insults but also to people’s allegedly incorrect use of language, to being called ‘a transsexual’, for example, rather than ‘a member of the trans community’. They even picket the offices of newspapers that have the temerity to piss them off. Why the extraordinary touchiness?
I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community. Transsexuals’ hopping-mad reaction to any perceived slight doesn’t confirm that they are a well-organised, increasingly cocky gang holding the world to ransom, as some have claimed. Rather it reveals the opposite – that this is a ‘community’ so sadly uncertain of its own claims, so instinctively aware of the largely phoney nature of its arguments, that it must protect itself from any form of public ridicule or questioning lest its facade be knocked down.
The rule of modern-day identity politics and offence-taking seems to be this: the less rooted and real one’s identity is, the more obsessed one becomes with erecting a forcefield around it in order to keep at bay awkward query-raisers.
September 27, 2013
GUEST POST by Bev Jo:
CENSORED FROM “BUTCH VOICES”
For the last three sessions of the Butch Voices Conference in Oakland (2009, 2011, and 2013), I have offered to do a Female-Identified Butch Workshop and have been denied, as have all other Radical Feminist Butches I’ve known. (In 2009, one of the organizers who had partially “transitioned” did a Female-Identified Butch workshop, which, from seeing the emotional reaction of the over 100 Butches who showed up, was desperately needed. But it felt like BV co-opted it, diluting the female energy in what was already a very male-identified conference, by choosing someone who had so recently identified as male (she had had her breasts removed, taken testosterone, and had worn a shirt identifying as trans a couple of months earlier at the Dyke March). No Female-Identified Butch workshop was allowed in 2011, even though there were several by men who call themselves “Butch.” This year, however, I was scheduled to participate in a panel of Female-Identified Butches, but then was later told I was no longer allowed to participate.
One of the men who did “transwomen” “Butch” workshops, Tobi Hill-Meyer, had been allowed to be a member of the Butch Voices 2013 Advisory Board. He is part of the reason I was censored/banned — the complaints came from “transwomen” and he was the only one named as objecting to my being on the panel. The Butch Voices statement is: The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are Masculine of Center. – in spite of the fact that Hill-Meyer, like the other men who pretend to be Lesbians, is very male-identified feminine and clearly male, and exposes his prick online in photos and videos. (Be warned that he is a pornographer, if you don’t want to see his or his fellow pornographers’ penises, or as the trans cult calls them, “lady peens.”)
Can any reasonable women look at him, his videos, or read his statement and not see clearly that he is a man, and certainly not a Butch? He identifies as “Indigenous, colonized mestiza, poly, kinky, trans woman, queerspawn, activist, butch, feminist, pan-dyke, genderqueer…. All my life I’ve had a drive to surround myself with queer people and community. Queerness gets me hot. I’m a major dyke, but there are definitely some hot queer guys that I go for.” Ironically, he has also written “straight women have absolutely no right to tell dykes how to have sex.” – as if he is a “dyke” and not a bisexual man.
This is the genderqueer, female-hating, Lesbian-hating, and Butch-hating mind-fuck/gaslighting that defines us out of existence. Lesbians, Dykes, and Butches do not fuck with men, not to mention that men are simply not women.
For those who insist that Lesbians can raise non-sexist, non-oppressive men, this man is a horrifying example of what happens when males grow up with inside access to Lesbian culture, making them far more dangerous than other men. They are left with a sense of ownership of Lesbians as well as entitlement, and proceed to try to erase us.
Lesbian Feminist Julie Bindel drops out of University of Manchester pornography debate due to rape and murder threats from “Transgender Women”
September 18, 2013
From the Independent:
The lesbian writer and co-founder of the Justice For Women campaign says she has been sent 30 unsavoury messages, some including death and rape threats, with three so severe that she reported them to the police.
Bindel was invited to speak at the Manchester Debating Union event against the motion that porn empowers women, but her role in the lineup alongside No More Page 3 founder Lucy Holmes and former porn actress Renee Richards was met with fierce criticism from students and transgender activists.
The opposition is thought to stem from an article on transgender issues that Bindel wrote for The Guardian in 2004, in which she described gender reassignment clinics as places where lesbians can go to ‘have their breasts sliced off and a penis made out of their beer bellies”.
Further controversial comments included the apparently dismissive conclusion, “I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a big of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man”.
Following the announcement of the speakers, a demonstration was organised by Loz Webb, trans representative for the university’s LGBTQ Society. Webb felt that it was wrong to give a platform to someone with “a track record of transphobia” during Welcome Week, when making all students feel safe and included is particularly important.
However, after hearing that Bindel had received violent threats over her attendance, Webb sent his “deepest sympathies” to her, insisting that the “unacceptable” hate messages had nothing to do with him or those he represents.
Explaining her decision to withdraw from the debate, Bindel told student newspaper The Mancunion: “I apologised for the tone in that article because I made really inappropriate jokes. I apologised but obviously that wasn’t good enough as I’ve been made a scapegoat.”
Bindel said that she chose to back down because her presence risked shutting down debate of an issue she feels is highly worthy of discussion. “I was coming to debate pornography. I was censored from speaking about something that has nothing to do with ‘transgenderism’, nothing at all,” she said.
A statement from Manchester students’ union called the threats “utterly unjustified”.
It went on: “We respect, support and celebrate the right of our students to protest and to feel safe on campus. The union has seen no evidence that any University of Manchester students were complicit in sending Julie Bindel rape or death threats but we wholly condemn anybody who has done so.”
Bindel reacted to claims on social media that her appearance would make trans people feel unsafe, calling the suggestions ‘ludicrous’. Yet she insisted that ‘silly, stupid, idiotic, we’re too cool for school so we’ll kick up a fuss students’ will not put her off returning to the university in the future.
“I would love to come back and do something again,” Bindel confirmed.
August 31, 2013
Authenticity of – Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of “Gender”- statement has been confirmed
August 21, 2013
The authenticity of following statement, now censored from Pandagon.net which was among the first sites who published it, has been confirmed. Some question of its authenticity arose in the initial period after its distribution for issues you can read about Here. However, many women have contacted various signatories and the authenticity of the document has been confirmed. Not only that, but more women have, and are currently, co-signing the document. Thank you to all the women who contacted me and provided verification over the last twelve hours. The entire statement is published below. Heart at Women’s Space has provided biographical information on the original signers Here, and what an impressive group of women they are. If you would like to have your name added as a co-signer of the document please contact Carol Hanisch here: http://carolhanisch.org/
The original statement in full:
Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Criticism of “Gender”
An open statement from 37 radical feminists from five countries.
August 12, 2013
We, the undersigned 1960s radical feminists and current activists, have been
concerned for some time about the rise within the academy and mainstream media
of “gender theory,” which avoids naming men and the system of male supremacy
as the beneficiaries of women’s oppression. Our concern changed to alarm when
we learned about threats and attacks, some of them physical, on individuals and
organizations daring to challenge the currently fashionable concept of gender.
Recent developments: A U.S. environmental organization that also calls itself
radical feminist is attacked for its political analysis of gender. Feminist conferences
in the U.K., U.S. and Canada are driven from their contracted locations for asserting
the right of women to organize for their liberation separately from men, including
M>F (male to female) transgendered people.
Deep Green Resistance (DGR) reports1 that queer activists defaced its published
materials and trans activists threatened individual DGR members with arson, rape
and murder. Bookstores are pressured not to carry DGR’s work and its speaking
events are cancelled after protests by queer/transgender activists. At “RadFem”
conferences in London2, Portland3 and Toronto4, trans activists accuse scheduled
speakers of hate speech and/or being transphobic because they dare to analyze
gender from a feminist political perspective. Both MF transgender people and
“men’s rights” groups, operating separately but using similar language, demand
to be included in the Rad Fem 2013 conference in London called to fight against
women’s oppression and for liberation.
How did we slide back to the point where radical feminists have to fight for the
right to hold women-only conferences and criticize conventional “gender roles”?
The rise of Gender Studies may be part of the problem. Language is a wonderful
human tool for thinking, understanding, cooperation and progress, so it makes
sense that when people fight for freedom and justice against those who are
oppressing them, the use and misuse of words—of language—becomes part of
the struggle. Originally the term “gender” may have been a useful way around
the communication problem that the word “sex” in English has several meanings.
“Sex” refers to the reproduction of a species, as well as acts bringing about sexual
pleasure AND the simply descriptive division of many plants and animals into
two observable categories—the “sexes.” Using “gender” instead of “sex” allows
feminists to make it clear that all kinds of social relations and differences between
the sexes were unjust, not just sexual relations between the sexes. “Gender”
also covers the artificial, socially-created differences between the human sexes,
the overwhelming majority of which are politically, economically and culturally
disadvantageous to female humans.
“Gender Studies” has displaced the grassroots women’s liberation analysis
of the late 1960s and early 1970s. An early embrace of the neutral idea of
“sex roles” as a major cause of women’s oppression by some segments of the
women’s liberation movement has morphed into the new language—but the
same neutrality—of “gender roles” and “gender oppression.” With a huge
boost from the “new” academic theory coming out of those programs, heavily
influenced by post-modernism, “gender identity” has overwhelmed—when
not denying completely—the theory that biological women are oppressed and
exploited as a class by men and by capitalists due to their reproductive capacity.
Women often can no longer organize against our oppression in women-only
groups without being pilloried with charges of transphobia. But, as a UKbased
radical feminist “Fire in My Belly” wrote in her blog, “Radical feminists
recognise that an individual’s ‘gender identity’ cannot, in a fair society, be
allowed to ride roughshod over biological sex, which cannot be changed.”5
We do not view traditional sex/gender roles as natural or permanent. In fact,
criticizing these “roles” is valid and necessary for women’s liberation. Radical
feminist analysis and activism focus on unequal power relations between men
and women under male supremacy, with real, material benefits going to the
oppressor group (men) at the expense of the oppressed group (women).
The system of male supremacy comes down hard on non-conforming men and
women, as movingly described online by members of the trans community.
While switching gender identity may alleviate some problems on an individual
level, it is not a political solution. Furthermore, a strong case can be made that
it undermines a solution for all, even for the transitioning person, by embracing
and reinforcing the cultural, economic and political tracking of “gender” rather
than challenging it. Transitioning is a deeply personal issue associated with a
lot of pain for many people but it is not a feminist strategy or even individual
feminist stance. Transitioning, by itself, does not aid in the fight for equal
power between the sexes.
There will have to be many advances in science and technology before the
bodies of female humans will no longer be needed for the complicated
and dangerous jobs of supplying eggs and gestating and bearing ongoing
generations to carry on the work of the world. There will also, no doubt, be
struggles to ensure that women are not oppressed in new ways under these
Not all feminists agree that ‘gender’ should be done away with, nor do
we agree with one another on pornography or prostitution or a radical
transformation of our economy or a number of other issues. But our movement
has a history of airing serious differences in speeches and distributed position
papers, not in physical attacks, threats of bodily harm and censorship of such
analyses. DGR and RadFem stood up for the right to think, speak and write
freely on the question of gender.
Although we may not be in total agreement with DGR’s analysis of gender, we
welcome it as an important contribution to radical feminism and commend
the courage it has taken to stand against the threats and attacks it brought
upon them. We defend the right of RadFem to exclude men, including M>F
trans people, from their feminist meetings and to invite speakers who analyze
gender from a feminist perspective. We also commend CounterPunch online
for publishing the DGR material, which brought similar attacks for transphobia
upon them, including from Jacobin magazine online.
We look forward to freedom from gender. The “freedom for gender”
movement, whatever the intentions of its supporters, is reinforcing the culture
and institutions of gender that are oppressing women. We reject the notion
that this analysis is transphobic. We uphold the radical feminist principle that
women are oppressed by male supremacy in both its individual and institutional
forms. We continue to support the radical feminist strategy of organizing an
independent power base and speaking the basic truths of our experience out of
earshot of the oppressor. We hold these principles and strategies essential for
advancing toward women’s liberation.
Initiated by Carol Hanisch (NY), Kathy Scarbrough (NJ), Ti-Grace Atkinson (MA), and Kathie Sarachild (NY)
Also signed by Roberta Salper (MA), Marjorie Kramer (VT), Jean Golden (MI), Marisa Figueiredo (MA), Maureen Nappi (NY), Sonia Jaffe Robbins (NY), Tobe Levin (Germany), Marge Piercy (MA), Barbara Leon (CA), Anne Forer (AZ), Anselma Dell’Olio (Italy), Carla Lesh (NY), Laura X (CA), Gabrielle Tree (Canada), Christine Delphy (France), Pam Martens (FL), Nellie Hester Bailey (NY), Colette Price (NY), Candi Churchhill (FL), Peggy Powell Dobbins (GA), Annie Tummino (NY), Margo Jefferson (NY), Jennifer Sunderland (NY), Michele Wallace (NJ), Allison Guttu (NY), Sheila Michaels (MO), Carol Giardina (NY), Nicole Hardin (FL), Merle Hoffman (NY), Linda Stein (NY), Margaret Stern (NY), Faith Ringgold (NJ), Joanne Steele (NY)
July 5, 2013
From “The (dis)appearance of Up Your Ass: Valerie Solanas as abject revolutionary” by Desiree D. Rowe, Rethinking History, Volume 17, 2013
After I presented an early version of this paper at a national academic conference,
a woman approached me. She1 said that she had seen the very last performance
of a work by Valerie Solanas – a performance I had just mentioned – at that
moment I disliked her. My dislike was rooted in envy, to be sure. Envy of her
experience of seeing Up Your Ass staged in a tiny theater space in New York City.
Of being able to feel the pressure of Solanas’ script. A script that was never again
performed, but shoved in a dusty archive. This space, P.S. 122, is one I have been
to a few times – but I never saw Valerie there.
My new friend saw the performance in 2001. Someone from the Village Voice
must have been there too: ‘What astonishes more is the ahead-of-its-time critique of
gender roles and sexual mores embedded in the jollity,’ she wrote, ‘queer theory has
nothing on the boundary-smashing glee of Solanas’s dystopia, where the two-sex
system is packed off to the junkyard’ (Soloman 2001). My jealousy builds.
Valerie Solanas herself
After that 2001 New York City performance, Valerie Solanas’ writings were put
away for good. Her performances and scripts disappeared. Why? The answer,
unfortunately, lies not in Solanas’ text, but in both the absence and inaccessibility
of it. You see I would love to take you on a grand tour, in the fashion of a rhetorical
analysis of Solanas’ Up Your Ass. But, as you will soon discover – that text is lost.
From the Cradle to the Boat, or The Big Suck, or Up From the Slime
Solanas’ most popular work, SCUM Manifesto (2004), is not her only one.
Solanas has two (lesser known – of course they are) other works. The next known
surviving work of Solanas’ is an article titled ‘A Young Girl’s Primer, or How to
Attain the Leisure Class,’ published in 1966 in the soft-core pornography
magazine Cavalier. She couldn’t get her work into mainstream publications so
she went to porn magazines. Don’t we read it for the articles?
The ﬁnal piece, and the one I am most interested in, is her 1967 play Up Your
Ass: From the Cradle to the Boat, or The Big Suck, or Up From the Slime. After
Solanas had completed the performance piece, she directly approached Warhol
about producing Up Your Ass. Warhol didn’t care. He took it. Lost it. Didn’t give
a shit (Harding 2001). By the way, this was her only copy. She clickty-clack-
clacked her way through this play and Warhol tossed it aside. Here’s the thing:
the play didn’t suck. After it was rediscovered in 2001 (and performed.
Remember? My new ‘friend’ had seen it) the response was strong.
But who cares?
The play was/is/can be good. But it is still lost.
Currently, the manuscript is in the archives of The Andy Warhol Museum in
Pittsburg, PA. As part of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg, the Warhol Museum
charges $20 general admission. I paid the student price, $10. Up Your Ass
however, is in the archives. You need an appointment to get in there – it’s no
place for the common folk. The only published excerpt of Up Your Ass appears in
James Harding’s 2001 article, in which he reprints two of the 40 pages of text.
When I attempted to access the script I was informed that I needed to show
documented proof of my afﬁliation with an institution of higher education.
Further, the copy would cost me, according to an employee of the Archives Study
Center at the Warhol Museum, at least $80 for every hour it took archivists to
retrieve and that didn’t even include photocopying and postage. Further, I was
instructed to wait 4 – 8 weeks to receive a response from the museum to conﬁrm
these details. After payment, they would send me a copy of Solanas’ manuscript.
That struck me as complete bullshit.
That began the process of historical gatekeeping that I had to negotiate for
the next two years.
I found it absurd that I had to provide such information, considering Solanas’
own position on higher education and relationship to Warhol. She was the woman
who attempted to take his life, something the archivists never tired of reminding me
in my contact with the Museum. Solanas also wrote in her manifesto of her disdain
for higher education because of her own experiences at the University of Minnesota,
beliveing it was men that had control over knowledge and doled it out to women only
when they had earned favor with the men in charge. Knowing this and requesting
those letters left me feeling a bit sad. Had so much changed since 1968?
On 7 June 2006, I received my copy of Up Your Ass. The museum had
photocopied (presumably) the original manuscript, which included Solanas’ own
scribblings and editoral marks. It is an amazing document. What I would ordinarily
do is detail the ﬁner points of the piece, quoting Solanas’ acerbic writing style and
marking the destruction of gender binaries and the hilarity of satirical
performativity. I can’t. There are only two copies of Up Your Ass. Mary Harron
found one via Billy Name, one of Warhol’s closest associates. Name gave the
script to Harron who then (allegedly) passed it on to Solanas’ sister. The second
copy is the one I found, and cannot be reproduced or quoted from without seeking
‘permission to quote . . . from the author, if known’ (Warhol Museum Invoice).
The Museum was not going to give permission to me, and I sure could not call
Valerie up and ask, so I was stuck. So I took a trip to Pittsburg.
A pilgrimage to Pittsburg
It is sad to me, really, that when I visited the Warhol Museum Archives, a manila
folder ﬁlled with photocopies of photocopies and originals were plopped in front me.
(I didn’t even need to wear white gloves when touching the documents. No
one told me to. That says something doesn’t it?)
This manila folder, heavy only with the symbolic representation of a little-
known life represented as copies of newspaper articles and scraps of paper, was
the most information I had ever seen about Solanas in one place. Before I opened
that folder I was breathless.
I could romanticize it for you, as if her fragments were swept up by the wind
like dandelion seeds, but we both know that is not what happens to radical activist
women. Solanas was ripped into little pieces and hidden away, and it remains
difﬁcult to pluck even the smallest bit of information about her from the conﬁnes
That is why, when I told the archivist at the museum that I was thinking about
coming back for a second day he laughed:
Why would I?
There was nothing else to see.
There was just that one folder.
There is no collection devoted to this radical feminist; and this is no accident.
There are only fragments because no one cares enough to preserve them – to
make space in a public conversation about women like Solanas. Radical women.
Solanas’ work is not accepted in traditional feminist histories, offering it no
stable home and perpetuating fragmentation. The Duke University’s online
collection of archives from the Women’s Liberation movement, considered to be
the foremost archives of the time, dismisses her in a footnote: ‘While Solanas is
not generally considered to be part of the Women’s Liberation Movement, her
SCUM (Society to Cut Up Men) Manifesto, written in 1967, is an example of extreme radical feminist theory’ (Special Collections Library, Duke University,
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/). Duke’s unwillingness to house Solanas’
materials perpetuates the fragmentation of her story.”
‘I am afraid I may die of silence. Is there a risk? Yes. Without the person
who is not afraid to publish me, would I be published?’ (Cixous 1993, 214)
During my phone conversation with an employee of the Study Archives
Center at The Warhol Museum, I began to feel a sense of dread. As he began to
describe, through a thin veil of sarcasm, each progressive hoop that I would have
to jump through to even read Solanas’ manuscript, my mind wandered.
I needed to visualize the woman whose script was being kept under lock and
key in (from what I can imagine) a dusty room. Valerie was an extraordinarily
intelligent woman, who ‘runs with the best of them’ – Derrida, Freud, Butler,
Del euze ( al l dudes ) – ‘ picking off crucial themes associated with
phallogocentrism’ (Ronnell 2004, 8). She had quit her work as a doctoral
student at the University of Minnesota to pursue other, more revolutionary
endeavors (Ronnell 2004, 11). Though often portrayed as a madwoman,
she fought without being subsumed by the consumer capitalist culture
surrounding you. I guess Valerie paid for her lack of reverence, because she
died ‘homeless and destitute’ in San Francisco in 1988 (Ronnell 2004, 31). With
that gloomy thought I quickly turned back to my conversation with the man in
Pittsburg. When I learn that I need to provide proof of my afﬁliation with a
university in order to gain access to the manuscript, I laugh, knowing Valerie
would be pissed.
So, I now realize, would He’le’ne Cixous.
She would be pissed because it is impossible for Solanas’ writing of Up Your
Ass to be seen as a form of solace, that Solanas’ text Up Your Ass has been treated
as abject, just as feminine writing has always been, and that Solanas’ attempt at
linguistic rupture, through the lens of Cixous, has failed. How?
Through a closer look at the implications of the context surrounding the
chronology of the disappearance of Up Your Ass, I (we) can come to a better
understanding of not only why I felt such dread that moment on the phone, but
why the inaccessibility of Up Your Ass has far reaching ramiﬁcations.
Cixous believes that writing is what can save women from a body-as-text death
within a culture that does not see them. Cixous writes to ‘touch with letters, with
lips, with breath, to caress with the tongue, to lick with the soul, to taste the blood
of the beloved body, of life in its remoteness; to saturate the distance with desire;
in order to keep it from reading you’ (1991, 4). Solanas wrote Up Your Ass as
more of a revolution than a contribution to a Norton Anthology.
Solanas wanted her writing to be read and embodied, not disappear in a
Warholian lighting trunk. In her exploration of Solanas as a radical feminist Dana
Heller likens the disappearance of Up Your Ass as akin to the erasure of the
‘memory’ of Solanas herself: ‘Seemingly unreproducable, Solanas’ memory,
writings, and image had all simply vanished, as ephemeral as print itself’ (Heller
2001, 171). In the losing of Solanas’ performance text, Warhol perpetuated the
same scene that Cixous describes, where every woman who attempts to write for
a larger public fears:
‘I am afraid. As a free writer? Worse still: a woman. Yes, I am afraid: afraid
of solitude, of hatred and rejection, afraid of being ‘horribly burnt’’ (Cixous 1993,
Solanas, through the rejection of her script (and the subsequent loss) was
‘horribly burnt.’ The rejection and fragmentation of Solanas’ text is a rejection of
Solanas. A rejection of her body. And, to take it all one more step – a rejection of
Valerie Solanas entered the University of Maryland in 1954, where she was
an open lesbian who ‘put herself through school by working as a prostitute’
(Heller 2001). Pursuing a degree in psychology, Solanas was using her body as a
tool to engage in endeavors of the mind. This theme reappears in nearly all her
(known) texts, when she focuses on the abject processes of the body. The
scatological reference in the title Up Your Ass and the excremental reference
SCUM (which she does not separate with the required periods) push us to think of
the body as a real place. A place for
All of her works come from this abject place. This base site.
She is reafﬁrming the value of the abject, or the connection between body and
She is in the muck – creating a shitstorm.
A consideration of scum, or the waste product of a waste product, as a powerful
mobilizing force of women is not overlooked by Solanas. She attempts to turn
what is abject into that which is valued.
Her work, however, has become abject itself. And here is where Cixous
Cixous formulates women’s writing as abject because it must happen in secret. When
writing is not secret ‘it wasn’t good, and because you punished yourself for writing,
because you didn’t go all the way; or,’ and watch out here, because Cixous brings it
back to the body for us, ‘because you wrote, irresistibly, as when we would
masturbate in secret’ (1976, 877). Women write in secret. And those secrets are
Solanas’ work is secret. Hidden. Disgraceful. She must be punished. She
didn’t care about the singular moment of pleasure. She wanted more.
Her work was focused on a greater structural rupture of the linguistic system
that had so entrapped her. As an individual Solanas worked diligently so that her
voice would be heard – Solanas was ﬁghting/writing for a revolution.
For Solanas, the power was in writing the revolution. When Solanas
approached Warhol to produce Up Your Ass, Warhol responded, ‘‘Did you type
this yourself? I’m so impressed.’ Warhol deadpans. ‘You should come type for
us, Valerie’’ (Heller 2001, 174). She was met with laughter and sarcasm. Cixous
envisions this moment of rejection: ‘A double distress, for even if she
transgresses, her words fall almost always upon the deaf male ear, which hears in
language that which speaks in the masculine’ (1976, 880 – 1). As a rejected abject
body, Valerie never experiences the ideal experience of e´ criture feminine, for her
gift was never received but, rather, it was (ﬁguratively and literally) lost.
The Warhol Museum still has the script. And isn’t showing it to anyone.
As it establishes requirements for viewing (membership with an accredited
institution of higher education) and imposes costly research fees (at least $80 an
hour for ‘research costs’) the Warhol Museum reiﬁes the denial of Solanas’
writing. In effect, the body of the text (body-text) is cloistered in the house of the
one whom rejected it.
The manuscript remains, undistributed, unread, and unrecognized in Pittsburgh.
Up Your Ass might not be a 40-page revolution, but it still should be
accessible to the general public. By keeping the work hidden, by locking it up, the
Andy Warhol Museum continues to categorize Solanas’ work as the text of a
madwoman. Solanas’ will never be able to experience Cixous’ e´ criture feminine.
Yet it might still be possible to bring make this open to the public.”
Read More: Desireé D. Rowe (2013): The (dis)appearance of Up Your Ass: Valerie
Solanas as abject revolutionary, Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice,
June 9, 2013
Since January of this year, the word ‘transphobia’ has been bantered about in mass media and social networking circles to such intensity that its definition has been expanded and in some instances grossly misrepresented. ‘Transphobia’ has been used in recent months to indicate everything from the range of negative attitudes and actions towards transsexualism and transgender people to the overt censorship of any expression that takes issue with the theoretical and political expressions of the transgenderism or certain trans activists. Even to undertake a strictly political analysis of the trans community one risks being labeled ‘transphobic’ especially if one is a radical feminist. As a result of this assault on dialogue, the true violence of transphobia (ie. assault, rape, murder and many other forms of discrimination) is cheapened and diluted in the larger space of discursive disagreements with feminists. Conterminously, the mislabeling of dialogue under the guise of ‘transphobia’ masks another type of violence perpetuated towards radical feminists who speak about these discursive differences with trans activists.
Relative to this debate is that each group views the other as having ‘privilege’—the trans activists accuse the feminist of having ‘cis-privilege’. The term ‘cis,’ a prefix that trans activists often use to designate one who is born in the body of the gender the subject ‘identifies with’ (as if all people identify equally or in the same manner with their bodies). As a result the word ‘cis’ is often circulated to underscore the ‘natural state’ of privilege that many trans activists project onto women born women, for instance. And the feminists accuse the trans women of having ‘male privilege’ since they claim that one cannot simply take hormones or undergo surgery and claim oppression. While it is remarkable to note how impetuously this term ‘transphobia’ is thrown about in the attempt to silence one’s interlocutor, it is likewise deplorable that in recent months there has been an escalation in threats and attacks on these feminists with the sole desire to silence their voices. This article attempts to examine the ways in which some feminists view discourses of transgenderism specific to trans women as problematic and harmful to women because transgenderism conflates sex and gender as a means to creating a superficial construction of woman by relying on gender stereotypes while erasing the very real violence and oppression that is part of the social reality of women. Conterminous to the erasure of real world women’s experiences, these feminists feel that transgenderism forces the subject into a prescribed way of perceiving trans women that works against logic (ie. what if the viewer simply does not see a woman?) and acts against the ultimate goal of these feminists which is the expunction of gender.
Samantha Berg, anti-prostitution activist and feminist, experienced harassment while putting together the Radfem Reboot Conference in Portland, Oregon in 2012. There were threats of disruption and violence and a local group made bomb threats in the name of transactivism which materialised in a molotov cocktail being thrown into a local bank. Lierre Keith of Deep Green Resistance has also been outspoken about her views as a feminist in radical opposition to the transgender movement criticising the collapse of sex (male/female) with gender: ‘They think that gender is somehow natural or biological and for feminists we are critiquing this, that gender is biological. When you look at what is ‘woman’, trauma is used to turn girls into women. This is a corrupt and brutal political arrangement and we are now not allowed to say that. We cannot make a political movement if we cannot name the class conditions of what is happening to women because they are so attached to the idea that gender is innate.’ Keith, like other radical feminists, fervently opposes the trans community’s creation and reification of gender: ‘To think that you can be a woman because you want to shave your legs and wear lipstick are daily insults to our physical integrity. It hurts the entire class of women if you take the social construction out of the practices of torture that create women.’ Discussing the language of the trans movement which attempts to erase biological difference Keith tells me of a discussion she had recently which poignantly demonstrates the problem at hand: ‘There is one guy who insists that not only does he have a vagina, but he has a cervix. How could he have a cervix? Yet he believes it and yet we are supposed to believe that he is not mentally ill? If I was being asked to have compassion for someone who is mentally ill, I have no problem. But I find it frightening that we cannot object to this.’ Because of her views and work in radical feminism, Keith has been threatened, labelled a transphobe, and has lost several speaking gigs over the past months. Keith claims that those who do not speak out are ‘compliant victims’: ‘We are not allowed to say it out loud and this is the new McCarthyism. People need to be really frightened by this.’
Last year’s Radfem conference in London was organised by Julia Long who views the attacks on the conference as part of a larger dynamic of patriarchy: ‘The patriarchal structure works on a very individual level in terms of domestic violence—it could be physical and economic violence, or control of her movements. A big part of this is his demand to have access to her as he see her in some way as his property and even as an extension of himself. The attack on the conference, is very much in line with this demand of access: ‘We demand that you recognise us as female and if you don’t you will be attacked.’ So even if someone uses an unacceptable pronoun, you are attacked. I just think the whole thing is misogynist in its intent and its effect. What they are doing is trying to stop us from forming a movement. And if there were ever a moment for women’s movements, it is today. What these trans activists are demanding is that we acknowledge that we have this ‘cis’ privilege.’ She negates this notion of privilege as she maintains that women are simply not privileged in today’s world noting how the oppression of women today is naturalised and ‘seen as inevitable’: ‘it is only when you shift it to a different frame such as race or disability—where men are also discriminated—that it renders it intelligible to people, otherwise they don’t see it at all. I think so much of it about access because women are not allowed to set boundaries and men set boundaries all the time and they violate our boundaries.’
When I ask Long about why the conference is not open to trans women, she replies that there are symposiums that offer trans women’s inclusion, adding ‘Radfem is simply not one of them.’ Long expresses her dismay over the aggressive attempts to shut down this conference: ‘Nobody is trying to stop them from having their movement in their own spaces which exclude others. The whole premise of transgender politics and transgender movement is a view of gender is antithetical to radical feminists’ view of gender. As far as I am concerned, gender is harmful to everybody because gender is the cultural wing of patriarchy. It maintains all the codes of male supremacy and female subordination, so that’s what masculinity is and what femininity is. I think we have to get rid of it and the way to that is through radical feminist projects of ending patriarchy. In fact, in that scenario transgender people would be equally protected. I just feel it is so offensive to say to us, ‘We get beaten up and raped as well—worse than you.’’ Present in the online discussions are the comparative battles of oppression—who is more oppressed than the other. This line of discussion is tiring for certain but it does point to some of the underlying issues of contention between these two groups that seems never to be resolved. Long, like other feminists, does not deny that trans women suffer, she just distinguishes that the suffering of women is radically distinct from that of trans women and there should be allowed the choice for women to organise and meet separately to discuss the issues of oppression specific to them.
This year’s Radfem Conference is to take place this weekend in the Camden Centre after the Irish Centre was forced to cancel after three men’s men’s rights activists yelled at the staff, threatened them, and then published the Irish Centre staff’s personal information on their blog. They didn’t have the resources to deal with the intimidation but were helpful in getting Radfem 2013 established in its new location. However, not everyone was welcoming the Radfem 2013 Conference at the Camden Centre. Nigel Harris, director, for the Camden LGBT Forum, is quite critical of the radical feminists who are due to hold conference in the Camden Centre this weekend: ‘The Radfems have stated that they don’t want trans women to attend their conference and Jeffreys has come out saying discriminating things against trans people. She wants the NHS to ban any spending on gender dysphoria so that it becomes impossible for trans people to transition.’ When I ask Harris why he does not wish for the conference to be held at the Camden Centre he replies, ‘The Camden Centre in the Town Hall has a sticker that says that this centre is safe for trans people.’ Harris claims he has no personal issue with the radical feminists but claims that his mandate is to protect equal access for trans people claiming that one of this year’s Radfem conference organisers has put up inflammatory comments online. I have been unable to find any such comments made by the organisers of this year’s conference. When I ask Harris if all events of the LGBT Forum are open to all people and that there are no workshops that would exclude certain groups, he tells me that there are meetings for trans women which would exclude any women born women.
Read the rest of this article here:
[Image added by me- GM]