Racism, Misogyny and Feminism
It’s time to end discrimination based on fear of the other.
I define racism as the belief that I, and people like me, are superior to everyone else. People with obvious physical differences — skin pigmentation, stature, disfigurement, obesity, for example — or whose ability to survive and compete is limited as a result of mental or physical impairment, are inferior. And, of course, I must add to that list the fact that, because I and people like me are male, females are inferior too. That is a specific category of racism more generally known as misogyny.
Supposing you are a female who believes that females are superior to males, by the above definition that makes you a racist, too. What of feminism? When I first encountered feminism, over half a century ago, it seemed to be all about equality: equal rights, equal opportunities, equal treatment, the right to share spaces with males — not being banned from ‘men only’ bars for example. Recently there has been a trend away from that towards an exclusivity which recognises that females have different needs that entitle them to special treatment. That, too, is fine. Positive discrimination based on self evident facts, that acknowledges physical differences, whether in relation to gender or challenging mental or physical attributes, has long been accepted as an important part of the equality agenda.
But discrimination based on prejudice is a form of racism. Most obvious in the Apartheid regime in pre-reform South Africa or the segregation once practised in some parts of the USA based solely on skin pigmentation, it is beginning to reappear in moves to ban trans-women from women only spaces. We need to be honest about this. Such moves are based, not on biology but on an irrational fear that men might take advantage by pretending to be women in order to gain access.
Just as colour bars were based on an irrational fear of the imagined consequences of intermixing of people with different skin pigmentation, moves to ostracise trans-women from women only spaces are evidence of prejudice and a belief that cis-women are superior to trans-women.