Saturday, October 24, 2009

feminism and intersex

As I have stated in a previous post, I consider myself a feminist. I have studied gender for years and have a bachelors degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Like most feminists I realize there many areas of inequality between men and women, and these are largely based on false assumptions and gender roles. As an intersexual, I realize that until these harmful gender roles and assumptions about men and women, what they want, how they look, and behave ect, are changed, there will be no hope for equality for us gender variants.

Unfortunatly, many feminists do not return this support for the intersexed. Most academic feminists ignore our plight entirely. They will speak out against female genital mutilations in Africa, but don't care about the intersex genital mutilations that are being done in there home country (a racist additude at best, they are preserving their privledged cultural status by claiming Africans have barbaric practices, while ignoring simular practices their culture has). The 1996 Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act was written by former congresswomen Patricia Schroeder, who recieved, and ignored several letters asking intersexuals to be included in the bill, making this practice of feminist ignoring into law.

More evidence is the notoroious annual Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. The festival's famous policy of Womyn born Womyn bars enterance to any transexuals and intersexuals who identify as women. They claim this is to celibrate the experience of being born female. Those women feel liberation, being completely free from the objectifying gazes and threat of rape that comes with a male presence at the music festival. This is very conroversial, with many feminists realizing that this contradicts what they have been fighting for. This has lead to "Camp Trans" forming and protesting outside the festival, and 'real' 'womyn' inside who protest the policy by wearing yellow armbands inside the festival.

The question that keeps coming to mind is why is the feminist movement so supportive of gays, but silent about other queer identities, especially intersex. I believe this is because many feminists agree with the work of Dr. John Money, who lead to the current treatment of intersexuals. His theory was that infants can be molded to have either a male or female gender identity. This thought that there is no ingrained psychological difference between men and women is very appealing to feminists. Dr. Money's theory, however, has been proven wrong by many subsequent studies, even his main research subject, David Reimer, rejected his theory (Reimer's penis was destroyed in a botch circumscision when he was an infant, so Money told his parents to raise him as a girl, but Reimer turned out a total tomboy, and eventually started living as a man).

As intersex issues become more mainstream, more feminists have started to support our cause, including writting those letters to add intersex to the bill, and protesting at the Michigan festival, however we still have a long way to go.

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