Editorial – Urgent Call for Comments on WHO Announcement of Guideline on Transgender Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on December 18, 2023 that it is going to develop a guideline on the health of “trans and gender diverse” [sic] people.
The WHO announcement states:
“The guideline is supposed to focus on 5 areas: provision of gender-affirming care, including hormones; health workers education and training for the provision of gender-inclusive care; provision of health care for trans and gender diverse people who suffered interpersonal violence based in their needs; health policies that support gender-inclusive care, and legal recognition of self-determined gender identity.”
For this, WHO has assembled a guideline development group (GDG). The GDG is composed of 21 members. The GDG consists of researchers with relevant technical expertise, among end-users (programme managers and health workers) and among representatives of “trans and gender diverse” [sic] community organisations. The WHO announcement has also published the biographies of the GDG members.
All of this is open for public comment till January 8, 2024. You can email your comments to email@example.com
In the following piece, we point out some problems with the above mentioned propositions, why it matters and what you can do about it.
“Gender-affirming care”–what do they mean when they say that?
The WHO announcement defines “gender-affirming care” as a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with their sex. Behavioral intervention means behaving in ways that the society considers typical of the supposed gender identity of the individual. This is not harmful if a man or woman decides to break gender stereotypes and behaves in ways previously considered typical of the other gender. On the contrary, as a feminist, we support breaking gender norms. But when it comes to “gender-affirming care,” major questions arise:
Why is it that a trans-identifying man feels more feminine by wearing dresses and makeup? Who decides what kind of behavior is masculine and what kind of behavior is feminine?
The answer is easy: thousands of years of patriarchy that has created a system where certain behavior is considered feminine and others masculine. Through “gender-affirming care,” when a health professional recommends a trans-identifying man to act more feminine in order to conform to his “gender identity,” the health care professional is reinforcing these stereotypes created by patriarchy. Both patriarchy and “gender-affirming care” state that, if you are a particular gender, you have to perform in ways stereotypical to that gender in order to be happy. The only difference between the two is that patriarchy bases your gender on your sex (a biological reality), whereas “gender-affirming care” bases your gender in your gender identity (a psychological feeling that is in turn based on the social construct of gender).
Psychological intervention in a “gender-affirming care” is one that validates the client’s gender dysphoria. It does not challenge the dysphoria in any way. While validation might, on the surface, seem a compassionate response (and it is for a lot of situations), it is not an appropriate one in many situations. For example, an anorexic client believes she is fat, even when her body is dying out of a lack of nutrition. If a therapist tried to “validate” her feelings of being fat, he would (quite rightly) be questioned on the ethics of his action. The same goes for body dysmorphic disorder, where a person is obsessed with a part of her body being “abnormal” or “not right” that it affects her daily functioning. There’s also body integrity identity disorder, where a person believes that he cannot be his real self unless he destroys a specific part of his body and opts for voluntary mutilation. How would you feel about a psychologist who would validate a person’s desire to mutilate his body and assist in the process? Here’s a video of a woman who claims to have voluntarily poured toilet cleaner in her eyes in order to blind herself.
Is gender dysphoria like body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia nervosa, i.e. arising out of a deep-rooted hatred for one’s body, that needs to be challenged ethically, or is it like a condition that needs to be accepted?
There are differing opinions on this. Yet, there is one thing that cannot be discredited by anyone. It is that most people suffering from gender dysphoria have a history of childhood trauma and other problems, as confirmed by a whitsleblower of a so-called gender-affirming service. When a person suffers from that kind of trauma, feeling a hatred or disgust with one’s body, or even dissociation from one’s body, is a common response. Talk to anyone who has been sexually assaulted, or molested about the immediate response of her body. Psychologists or psychotherapists know this. Yet, under “gender-affirming care”, they conveniently overlook this. Under “gender-affirming care,” you cannot talk about the childhood trauma, because anything that mildly challenges their dysphoria is considered (in an Orwellian twist of language) malpractice. In reality, not dealing with trauma should be dealt as an unethical conduct for a psychologist.
Medical intervention in “gender-affirming care” involves the use of puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and sex reassignment surgeries (SRS). Puberty blockers are used in prepubescenct children to stop puberty, because, we (as a culture) finally decided that a prepubescent child can have the right to make life-altering decisions. GnRH, a category of drugs used as puberty blocker, suppresses the release of testosterone in male and estradiol in female, thus stopping the development of primary and secondary sex characteristics. If taken for a long time, it permanently affects the body’s production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), lutenizing hormone (LH), testosterone and estradiol – all of which are related to a normal reproductive and sexual functioning. And, this is a decision a child is making before puberty, before the child has even had a chance to see himself as a sexual and/or reproductive being. Lupron is also the drug that is used to chemically castrate male sex offenders. However, it is recommended to be reserved for offenders with “highest risk of sexual offending due to its extensive side-effects“.
Simply put, the drug that is too harmful for a person with a low to medium risk of sexual offending, is promoted by “gender-affirming care” to children without a fully developed prefrontal cortex (i.e. without the ability to fully comprehend consequences of one’s actions).
HRT and SRS are not better either. There are many who regret these interventions for the impact that they had, and mainly because they were never given the actual intervention that they needed: trauma healing. A pioneer study looked into the lived experiences of 237 detransitioners on their regret, medical complications, and even, the vitriol they face from trans-rights activists.
For a well-written account of a detransitioner, read Kiera Bell’s story. Her tireless activism and legal lawsuit was what brought in stricter regulation for medical intervention in the UK.
Self-identified gender identity
Self-identified gender identity or Self-ID (as it is commonly known) means the ability of a person to be able to change one’s sex legally without the need for any medical intervention or for any form of psychological assessment. Trans rights activists have been pushing for self-ID in many countries, claiming that it would help with gender dysphoria. After all, treating a person in the way that they desire to be treated should not have been a problem. Unfortunately, it turned out to be. It meant rapists immediately after conviction claiming to be women and then being housed in women’s prisons, where they get access to vulnerable women. It meant men claiming to be a woman getting into seats reserved for a woman. It meant mediocre male athletes claiming to be women and playing in women’s sports, where due to their biological advantage, they easily win the competitions. It meant pedophiles claiming to be women to get lighter sentences. For countries where law does not recognize a woman raping woman, it could mean no sentence for a rapist claiming to be a woman. For more on how self-ID has been misused by sex offenders, read this open letter by Derrick, Lierre and Max.
Self-ID is an issue where the demands of the trans rights movement directly clash with the hard-fought rights of women for centuries. Sadly, many have chosen to forego of women’s rights in order to validate men’s feelings.
Why it matters?
WHO is a leading body on health related information throughout the world. Although WHO guidelines are not binding (i.e. no country is forced to comply by its standards), it does have high influence in creating standards across many countries. This is especially true for low and middle income countries (LMIC). LMIC lack the resources and expertise to develop guidelines of their own. As a result, they have a greater reliance on WHO guidelines for health related issues. Regardless of the economic status of the countries, WHO is an authority body when it comes to health related matters globally. It is bound to have a great influence in the policies of all nations.
What can you do?
- Submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org The deadline for submitting comments on the WHO announcement is January 8, 2024.
- Sign this petition by Who Decides It explains many issues with the announcement that may not have been covered in the above piece.
- Find women and men around you and organize to defend these hard-fought rights in your locality.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
Editor’s note: The following event is not being organized by DGR. We stand in solidarity with it and encourage our readers to get involved if possible.
Webinar on Pornography
Our conversation will be led by Hugh Esco, a member of the Green Alliance for Sex Based Rights, an officer of the Georgia Green Party. Hugh has for years researched the pornography industry and its impact on the often trafficked ‘performers’, on consumers and their families and as a contributor to rape culture which poses a growing threat to the mental health of adolescent girls and young women; of the boys and men who want to be a part of their lives. He will be sharing a presentation first developed five years ago, which examines the pornography industry, efforts by the church, state, the courts, feminists and others to regulate it; and which has recently been updated to share new material about the current state of feminist resistance to the monopoly currently controlling the industry. After his presentation, we will open the floor for questions and discussion among the participants.
Saturday, November 4th at 2:00 pm, Eastern time zone, please translate to your timezone for your calendar.
You need to register for the event. You can do it here. You have to open in Firefox to register. The tickets are available at different rates, from $0 to $100.
A Note of Gratitude
As most of our viewers are already aware, DGR conducted an event on Ecology of Spirit on October 21. We would like to thank all who attended and showed us your support. Your kind words encourage us. We would also like to thank those who donated to us through our fundraiser and our auction. Your support will go a long way in building grassroots movements.
For those who missed, you can view the recording here:
Featured Image by Alex Motoc on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in US educational institutions receiving federal aid. The US Department of Education has proposed to amend the Title IX in relation to sex-related eligibility criteria for male and female athletic teams. If passed, this would mean that athletes would be allowed to compete based on their gender identity, rather than their sex. Sports has long been categorized on the basis of sex for a reason. There are some fundamental differences in the ways that male and female bodies develop, specifically in adolescence. Male sex hormones, especially testosterone, are responsible for increased muscle mass and bone density. Sex hormones account for the sudden height and weight increases in boys after puberty. These effects are long lasting, and cannot be curbed by taking cross-sex hormones. Recently, the debate has been ignited by the win of the trans-identifying swimmer Lia Thomas in the women’s category.
This is a press release from GASBR, Green Alliance for Sex-Based Rights. It is also a call for action. Today is the last day for commenting on the issue.
GASBR Urges Opposition to DoE Title IX Rule Changes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 12th, 2023
For further information, contact:
618-608-0159 * email@example.com
Green Alliance Files its Opposition to Proposed DoE Title IX Rule Revisions
Deadline looms to join effort to protect women’s sports from men’s participation
On Tuesday, May 9th, the membership of the Green Alliance for Sex-Based Rights approved comments which were that evening submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. In their comments, GASBR members participating in that evening’s call were unanimously agreed that:
We strongly oppose DOE’s proposed amendments, as they are utterly contrary to the statutory purpose of Title IX, which was enacted as a measure to help address the historic and systemic oppression and unequal treatment of women and girls in our educational institutions. The proposed amendments do so by conflating “gender identity” with “sex,” and accepting as a premise that recipients [of federal education funding] must accept trans-identifying males as being de facto females and must make accommodations that allow them to participate in girls’ and women’s sports.
The position statement adopted by GASBR can be reviewed in its entirety on the website of the Green Alliance. Its comments to the Department of Education are now a matter of public record and should be accessible on their website.
The Green Alliance urges others to join GASBR in opposing the Biden Administration’s efforts to destroy sports programs built for women and girls in tax-payer funded educational settings. The deadline for filing comments is Monday, May 15th, 2023. The proposed rule revisions may be reviewed at this link. Comments may be submitted at this link.
Photo by That’s Her Business on Unsplash
Editor’s note: On September 16, a 22 year-old woman (Mahsa Amini) was brutally tortured and killed by the Iranian state for improper wearing of hijab. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, has made a public statement that the protests happening in the country are being backed by the Western countries, and that Mahsa Amini was not tortured in their prison. Given the history of US-backed regime changes across the world from Central and South Americas to the Middle East, including Iran itself, concerns among anti-imperialists about the recent protests are not an indication of paranoia.
Whether or not the protests are backed by imperialist tendencies of the West, the plight of the women of Iran should not be discarded either. For the past forty decades of theocratic rule in Iran, women’s human rights have been violated in more than one occasion. They have faced many injustices, the death of Mahsa Amini and of the hundreds of people (especially young women) who protested her death is just the latest of which. Regardless of the West’s imperialist tendencies, these injustices should be addressed first and foremost.
The following statement was released by Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women (DOIW) on September 23. Since then, many protestors have been killed, arrested and persecuted.
Victory to the united struggle of the brave women and men of Iran; For liberty, and freedom from theocratic tyranny and the repeal of all laws that undermine women’s human rights!
Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women(DOIW) emphatically condemns the killing of Mahsa (Gina) Amini, by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We convey our condolences to Mahsa’s grieving family and to all freedom-loving women and men of Iran. The regime’s Guidance Patrol arrested this young woman of 22 as she travelled on Tehran’s Metro with her brother under the pretext of having “bad hijab”. As a result of the brutality of the regime’s guidance patrol and beatings while in custody, Mahsa Amini died in hospital on 16th September. This new crime of the Islamic Republic has provoked the anger of the long-suffering people of Iran. The name and memory of Mahsa Amini has turned into a rallying cry for the people who have come out to the streets to rise up against oppression, dictatorship and social injustice. On Mahsa’s temporary gravestone, is written: “Darling Gina, you won’t die, your name will become a code”. Today, Mahsa Amini’s name has indeed become the rallying cry for the people rising for freedom.
In the past forty years, the reactionary Islamic regime of Iran has used systematic violence to secure its self-interest, and to trample shamelessly on the social and human rights of the people of Iran, particularly the women of Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has presided over deepening poverty, economic and social insecurity, promoted the practice of embezzlement and hypocrisy in the state, has plundered the national wealth for the personal interest of the ruling elite and their associates, and has been directly responsible for violence and crimes against countless women and men. These have ranged from the forced hejab and medieval laws against women, to the torture, rape and execution of hundreds of girls and women supporters of left-wing organisations or mojaheds during the 1980s, or the mass killings of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, the execution of Fatemeh Modaresi, the consultant member of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran in 1989, the brutal murder of other dissidents such as Parvaneh Forouhar in the 1990s, and Zahra Kazemi, Zahra Bani Yaqub, among others, in the torture chambers of the regime, and the murder of Neda Agha Soltan in street demonstrations. These atrocities continue to this day and the people have had enough.
The regime’s denial of responsibility over the death of Mahsa Amini has fuelled people’s anger. At first the regime claimed that Mahsa had died due to ill health, something that her family have denied vehemently. The regime’s contradictory position on this tragedy, mimics their denials and lies immediately after the Revolutionary Guards’ downing of the Ukrainian plane over Iran in December 2019.
The people of Iran have been living with the fallout of the regime’s neoliberal policies, with its resultant poverty, deepening class divide and prevalent corruption, with the poor, women and the young bearing the brunt, and they have little to lose in this unequal fight.
Street clashes continue to rage in more than 80 cities and towns in Iran, despite access to the internet having been curtailed to stop communications. The women and men of our country have shown indescribable courage to stand against the brutal security forces of the regime and despite the heavy cost in this unequal struggle – fists against bullets – they are holding fast. The echo of people’s slogans conveys their demands: “Death to Dictatorship”, “Down with Theocracy”, and latterly “Woman, Life, Freedom” – a slogan that has emerged in these protests to reflect women’s particular aspirations – is a reminder of Marx’s position that a society is only free when its women are free. Today, the women of Iran are fighting courageously for their freedom and for the freedom of the society from theocracy.
“Woman, life, freedom” by TheGfarce is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Since Thursday 22nd September, different organisations, including Iran Human Rights have announced that at least 31 have been killed in the protests. Some reports put this figure at 50. There are reports of the arrest of a large number of protesters, including reporters, civic and political activists, women, students and former political prisoners. At present the prisons of Iran are full of workers’ rights activists, teachers, national minorities, religious minorities such as the Baha’is, dissenters, artists, and students.
At present, the Islamic Republican regime continues its brutal suppression, cutting off the internet and access to social networks. In 2019 during the people’s uprising, more than 600 innocent people were killed among them 23 children and youngsters under the age of 18. The regime cut off the internet then too (killing with the lights out), and shamelessly lowered the official number killed to 224 people instead. Then the regime accepted no responsibility for its atrocities, and in September 2022, the regime is repeating its brutal suppression of the people as before.
Today, too, the regime’s guns are aiming at the hearts of the women and youth of Iran. Ra’isi, the President of the regime, was one of the main perpetrators of the murder of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Just as he spoke of human rights at the UN General Assembly, on the 21st of September, the 15 year old Abdollah Mohammadpur, and the 16 year old Amin Ma’refat were shot dead by the regime’s armed police. The mass arrests continue all over Iran.
DOIW condemns the brutal suppression of the people and believes that victory in the fierce struggle that is ahead of us, for democratic rights and freedoms, social justice, and an end to discrimination, in other words, the realisation of the protesters’ demand “Woman, Life, Liberty”, can be secured only through the united struggle of all progressive social and political forces and the dismantling of the religious dictatorship that rules Iran. Our victory depends on the separation of religion from the state, and the establishment of a national and democratic republic in Iran.
Finally, the Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women, appeals to all progressive forces the world over, especially progressive women’s organisations, to condemn this latest atrocity perpetrated by the Islamicists in Iran- the arrest and killing of Mahsa (Gina) Amini under the pretext of carrying out “religious laws and decrees”- and condemning the killings in Iran especially of our young people, and to condemn the detention of freedom fighters in our country. With your solidarity you can extend the reach of these protests and let our brave people’s call for justice be heard worldwide.
“Solidarity with Iranian Protests (52383249139)” by Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Statement by the Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women
23rd September 2022
Banner Photo by Artin Bakhan on Unsplash
Editor’s note: Most of the world’s science is conducted in service of profit and militarism which both depends upon for its creation and results in ruin for the natural world.
In this article, Evan Richards draws links between the destruction of our planet, “anti-aging medicines,” patriarchy, and rejection of biological reality.
By Evan Richards
“The assumption that women and nature exist for the use and convenience of men has generated technologies undreamed of”
— Patricia Hynes, ‘The Recurring Silent Spring’ (1989)
In April, the BBC headlined an article titled ‘Rejuvenation of woman’s skin could tackle diseases of ageing’. The BBC’s Pallab Ghosh writes that “Researchers have rejuvenated a 53-year-old woman’s skin cells so they are the equivalent of a 23-year-old’s” with the eventual aim being “to develop treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders.” It is added that “the technology is built on the techniques used to create Dolly the cloned sheep more than 25 years ago.”
Throughout this article I will argue that the BBC is pushing unnecessary “high-publicity” and “high-drama” techno-medical solutions that are distracting and harmful. Overall, health is being weaponised by science to justify unnecessary experimentation that maintains patriarchal values. I argue that a radical-feminist conception of health is needed now more than ever.
“We see the same world. But through different eyes”
— Virginia Woolf, ‘Three Guineas’
First, it is important to look into the myth of objectivity within science and medicine. The subject of medicine is one that is often boasted about and leveraged against those who resist industrial patriarchy. The topics of health, psychiatry, therapy, and science are dominated with liberal rhetoric, with critical voices being routinely left out. As Janice Raymond wrote: “technological progress has become a sort of secular religion and anti-technology, a control mechanism for marginalising criticism”. Through the doctrine of liberalism, theories of “neutrality” and “objectivity” reign supreme to rationalise man’s irrational systematic plunder of the earth.
A friend of mine described the liberal mentality well: “subjective things like ‘good’ are decoupled from their subject. ‘Good for industry’ simply becomes ‘good’. Good for whom? The bears? The salmon? The birds? The humans who have lived there for generations? Supremacist thinking doesn’t just claim the supremacist’s feelings trump all others; the most insidious part is that it completely erases other feelings. They just don’t exist, you’re not just the only one who matters, you’re the only point of view”. Through institutions such as religion and science, objectivity makes what is good for a small elite of rich white men become “good” for everyone else. The subjective experiences of those lower on the hierarchy are ignored.
Take the famous words of Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power”. Here we deal with abstract knowledge, separated from patriarchal society. In saying “knowledge is power” Bacon gives the game away as knowledge becomes defined as that which makes man powerful. Knowledge that does not serve power, but only to heal the land is habitually disregarded as “knowledge”. The knowledge of soil, seeds, biodiversity, bees and butterflies is ignored in favour of the knowledge of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, GMOs and how to increase the profit of agricultural monopolies. Throughout this article, the same problems arise as the myth of male reason attempts to justify unnecessary experimentations, which guise the true goal of possession and control.
“It is instructive to look back on the history of eschatological technology, reproductive as well as otherwise, formerly touted as salvific, but often saving no one.”
— Janice Raymond, ‘The Marketing of the New Reproductive Technologies: Medicine, the Media and the Idea of Progress’ (1990)
Derrick Jensen said that “we in this culture have come to conflate this way of life with all life on the planet”. Health under civilisation is centred on human people, non-human people (often called ‘resources’) are not accounted for. Such blind reductionism will inevitably be destructive as humans cannot live without the vibrant ecosystems that sustain the web of life. Therefore, as Andrée Collard pointed out, “if health were a genuine concern, scientists would turn their minds to restoring healthy conditions for all life.” Patriarchy fixates on isolated problems, naming them diseases. It then focuses on cures over prevention, reflecting the patriarchal mantra of control which “derives from the fear of being subject to nature”.
Unlike the patriarchal sciences, feminism sees everything as interconnected. Robin Morgan said that if patriarchy could be summed up in a word it would be “compartmentalisation”. Patriarchy splits and divides, creating contradictions, and turning reality into antagonistic categories. Reason is split from emotion, culture is split from nature, the mind is split from the body, sex is split from love and science is split from art.
Patriarchy’s lust for division is so uncompromising it even split the atom, spelling out the needless deaths of thousands and poisoning the world into a perpetual schizophrenia of nuclear apocalypse. Through the artificial manufacturing of these splits, patriarchy seeks to elevate man above nature. The scientist under patriarchy is hence always apart from nature, separated in a lab, able to observe nature “objectively”. A radical-feminist conception of science on the other hand recognises that we are instead a part of nature. As Janice Raymond wrote, a radical-feminist kind of science “is thus ecological” as “it recognises that everything is related to everything else.”
Mary Daly had written in 1978 that “scientists are priests of patriarchy”. Indeed, as Sandra Harding wrote “science is a social problem because the society that shapes it is a social problem.” In Daly’s words, “the development of modern technology… Has facilitated movement beyond mere passive expectation to active enactment of the envisioned horror show.” Vandana Shiva, writing in her book ‘Staying Alive’ published in 1988, focused on “science and development as patriarchal projects”. It is this “modern reductionist science” which must be replaced with a feminist science.
“By definition, un-health cannot bring about health”
— Andrée Collard, ‘Rape of the Wild’
Under patriarchal medicine, the health of Mother Earth is not acknowledged in the production of medicines for humans. Given that the etymology of health means to be whole, any medicine which is dependent on the destruction of the environment, is obviously not healthy. For example, premarin based estrogen replacement drugs which come from the rape and abuse of horses, are not healthy. If those horses were not strapped down and routinely violated, civilisation could not provide them.
When you see the world as a whole, not isolated and fragmented, your conception of health is sustainable. However, because patriarchy does not recognise the interconnectedness of our world and our bodies, its projects of “health” are reversed. In the end to be healthy means to escape one’s body (transsexualism / transhumanism), in the end to be healthy means to escape the Earth (space travel) and live “freely” encased in metal or uploaded into ‘the cloud’. Scientists through doublethink will annihilate us in their conquest for health.
“Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age”
— Carrie Fisher
An Everyday Health article on the history of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has a section titled “Forever young? Anti-aging Momentum Begins”. In the article, it references a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Gloria Bachman, who said that hormone therapy improves the look of the skin, breasts, and muscles, therefore playing an important role in boosting a woman’s self-image and self-esteem. Underlying the concern for women’s health is an endorsement of patriarchal beauty values. Tying self-esteem to youth, rather than criticising an sexist and ageist culture, does not boost self-esteem, it damages it leading to harmful beauty practices. The cure is not medical-technology that ultimately serves male degraded lust for artificial beauty, the cure is radical-feminism and a women’s movement that challenges an ageist and sexist culture.
It is no surprise that this research targets women. For one, paedophile culture is a driving motivation behind it, shown clearly when organisations such as the Lifespan Extension Advocacy Foundation advertise that “age is just a number”. Paedophile culture affects all women, as Alicen Grey explains, “on the one side you have the infantilization of babies and little girls, on the other side, you have the sexualising of adolescent and infantile qualities in adult women.” This technology will therefore enforce authoritarian beauty expectations, there is a reason “rejuvenation of women’s skin” was the title and not men’s. The science is focused on women, because patriarchy seeks to control women.
For the sadistic priests of patriarchy who are “irritated by mystery” and who desire to “penetrate the unknown”, the yearning for control is endless. The BBC article is particularly dangerous, yet simply follows in a long-standing tradition of the malestream media to promote and advertise these phallocratic technologies, when, as Janice Raymond points out, “failure is often recognized after the fact of damage”. To promote the childish excitement of men like Professor Reik who work for the Wellcome Trust, with no critical voice, allows these projects to become greater catastrophes than they already are.
“I think it is important first to recognise the difference between ageing, which is a physiological process, and ageism, which is a form of oppression.”
— Barbara MacDonald, ‘Look Us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’ by Jennifer Abod.
The threats are biomedical as doctors, engineers, scientists and technocrats who experiment on women’s bodies in the goal of gaining “knowledge” ultimately gain control over women’s bodies as women become increasingly dependent on them, unable to live autonomous lives. The threats are also social, as what this technology ultimately achieves is the preservation of an ageist and sexist world. Just as transsexualism achieves the perpetuation of sex-role-stereotyping, these technological “solutions” achieve the maintenance of paedophile-culture, where women ageing is taboo.
This blame shifting from society onto the body, guised under the concern for women’s health, violates bodily integrity through genetic engineering and sustains the patriarchal world. Janice Raymond wrote in 1979 that “we are witnessing in the transsexual context, science at the service of a patriarchal ideology.” The patriarchal doctrine of sex-role-stereotyping creates the problem of transgenderism to begin with, placing sex as the enemy. Here, the patriarchal doctrine is immortality, naming age as the enemy.
“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”
— Gail Dines
The threats lie in sadomasochistic beauty rituals, there to keep women in a constant state of objectification. Mary Daly said that “the use of beauty… Functions to keep women in a state of being touchable, malleable, pouroverable”. Women are, in her words, made “the touchable caste.” This technology would keep women trapped in the male gaze, never ageing, unable to grow old. An experience which is already the norm. Given patriarchy’s prescription that women must be young and fertile, the abuse of women who do and do not conform and buy into these new technologies, will increase. Given the crippling beauty standards women are already coerced to perform, the prospect is undoubtable. Paedophilic male entitlement to women’s performance of artificial youth will only grow.
This objectification of women goes in tandem with the wider cultural rise of pornbots and development of reproductive technologies in society. This is the continued procession of “robotitude”, a term coined by Mary Daly to stress “the reduction of life in the state of servitude to mechanical motion.” Mary Daly’s prophetic insight in 1978 exposed how “the direction of phallotechnic progress is toward the production of three-dimensional, perfectly reformed “women”, that is, hollow holograms.” As she revealed, “the march of mechanical masculinist progress is toward the elimination of female Self-centering reality.”
“Prevention is the imperative need”
— Rachel Carson, ‘Silent Spring’
The BBC article says that the aim of this research and technology is to develop treatments for “diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders”. This comes under scrutiny however when we realise that half of U.S. cosmetics already contain toxic chemicals that cause these problems in the firstplace. The drive for acquiring youth in the beauty industry already proliferates age-related diseases itself. Exposure to chemicals such as Phthalates for example, found in makeup, “has been explicitly linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in several studies”, the very problems these scientists claim they wish to cure. One would think if the goal was to combat disease as advertised, one would put energies into fighting this problem first before going ahead with the high-risk technology used for cloning sheep.
Nonetheless, these scientists march on in their crusades. It is no surprise that these methods also increase cancer, as it says in the BBC article, “the technique cannot immediately be translated to the clinic because the IPS method increases the risk of cancers.” It continues, “but Prof Reik was confident that now it was known that it is possible to rejuvenate cells, his team could find an alternative, safer method.” The rhetoric of addiction permeates all liberal-scientists.
Patriarchy creates the problem and sells the “cure”. The problem of toxic beauty is never seen as part of the equation, the knowledge of feminists who have written extensively on challenging harmful beauty practices is not regarded. Any solution which does not increase the power of the sociopaths in charge is shunned. The problem is always instead a lack of data, a lack of research, and a lack of test subjects. This myopic, mechanistic and reductionist worldview of modern-day science has allowed the Father to be blind in his abuse, addicted to the torture of the Earth, thinking only of himself, he spells out the demise of all.
“Death has become an imposition on the human race and is no longer acceptable.”
— Alan Harrington, ‘The Immortalist’
The need to read Janice Raymond and revive a radical-feminist conception of medicine whilst rigourously investigating the risks of genetic engineering and pharmacogenomics is stronger than ever. Transhumanists have always been uncomfortable with that which is outside of their control, death is seen as an imposition on humanity that we need to be liberated from, our flesh and bodies are seen as meat-avatars, prisons, limiting us of our creative potential. As the trans-identifying-male Natasha Vita-More stated, “our bodies will be the next fashion statement; we will design them in all sorts of interesting combinations of texture, colors, tones, and luminosity”. This comes from the patriarchal mind/body split, fostering a scientific faith in immortality. As Derrick Jensen wrote “a fear of death and a yearning for immortality is a primary motivator of much human supremacist science”. Transhumanists have always seen age as their enemy, and sought to control it.
The section on ‘Longevity’ from Andrée Collard’s book, ‘Rape of the Wild’, is stupendous in its analysis of this necrophilic endeavour, which makes life dependent on industrial civilisation. That is, dependent on torturing animals, mining rare earths, and of course dependent on phallocentric theories of scientists and doctors. A resistance movement is needed, otherwise there will be something worse even than the gift of death, there will only be the non-presence of the machine.
Evan Richards is from England, and is a volunteer with Deep Green Resistance.
Image from ‘Look us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’, a documentary by Jennifer Abod (great watch!).
Editor’s note: As an eco-feminist organization, Deep Green Resistance draws links between the exploitation and mistreatment of women, the destruction of compassion and solidarity, and the ongoing ecocide of the natural world.
Rates of sexual abuse today are staggering. On average nearly 500,000 people over 12 years of age — the vast majority of them female — are sexually assaulted each year in the United States. Some 12.5% of children are sexually abused.
In this piece, Jocelyn Crowley draws links between the mainstreaming of violent pornography and endemic sexual abuse — increasingly normalized as “rough sex” or kink, reminding us that we must not forget that sexual abuse of women is at the core of patriarchy.
NB: This piece contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. Click here for information about stopping porn addiction.
By Jocelyn Crawley
While doing research for an article I recently wrote regarding the level of radicalism which can and might exist within mainstream realms such as rape crisis centers, I stumbled across a documentary regarding how sex traffickers now frequent drug rehab facilities for the purpose of recruiting victims. These traffickers lure victims away by proposing that the victims are being transported to another drug rehab facility.
Although I formerly worked for an anti-trafficking facility, this was all new to me. I listened in a state of deep horror as several young women described how traffickers repeatedly “sold them for sex” (paid rape) to various individuals. While everything stated by the brave survivors who were strong enough to tell their stories left a deep imprint on my consciousness, the most disturbing and transformative story was from a young woman who stated that while being trafficked, the trafficker stated “Did you know that four men just ran a train on you for $20? Just $20. That’s it.” Her point was plain. The trafficker was informing her that she was worth little to nothing and that, as a mere object, he maintained the subjectivity necessary to determine what the cost of her objectification would be.
It is well-known that pimps use these types of breaking strategies to convince victims that no one cares about them, and the strategies wouldn’t be repeatedly used if they weren’t effective. Yet the reason that her words were particularly jarring to me at that moment is because I had recently become reirritated by the reality of fake feminists and their inaccurate discourse, nonempirical understanding of gender, and superficial work that they do to uphold male supremacy under the guise of creating a more equitable world when they could actually join the radical feminist family in the unapologetic, unrelenting condemnation of men who subject women to any and all forms of sexual abuse.
I won’t go into deep detail regarding the asinine, ineffective efforts of the liberal feminist community here, but suffice it to state that they make things like the cultivation of good heterosexual marriages, equal pay for equal work, and abortion rights integral to their platform and diminish the role that sexual abuse plays in perpetuating male supremacy due to fear of truly speaking to power and recognizing that the men they serve are the biggest threat to the viability of the planet and half its population
Although the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a substantive blow to women, I agree with the radical feminists who argue that the sustained attention given to the abortion debate is actually a distraction and the diverting of female energy from the most significant source of women’s oppression: any and all forms of sexual abuse. Indeed, I think that radical feminist energy should be continually redirected to the recognition of, rumination regarding, and antagonistic response towards the variegated forms of sexual abuse that transpire in all realms, including the now sexually normative and culturally acceptable spheres of prostitution and pornography.
While other forms of gender-based abuse are problematic, rape and other forms of sexual assault and oppression are the most egregious because they reduce women to objects and revivify a cultural landscape in which individuals are reduced to a state eerily comparable to slavery in which their bodies are no longer their own but rather a resource that is extracted for capital and/or pleasure of nefarious masters (pimps, johns, boyfriends, husbands, and all other men who appropriate female bodies). (Also, if is true that prostitution is the oldest institution in the world, this would mean that it predates all forms of traditional slavery on the planet…and this would be saying a lot regarding which forms of oppression and against which groups are most deeply imbricated into the psyches of the citizens of the planet.)
While I have read much literature regarding rape and other forms of sexual abuse, I was most recently stirred by my rereading of Gloria Steinem’s stunning essay “The Real Linda Lovelace.” This essay recounts the horrific, brutal violence (both sexual and non) suffered by Linda Boreman at the hands of multiple men, including her former husband Chuck Traynor.
Much of Steinem’s retelling of Boreman’s sexual abuse stems from her awareness of the pornographic film Deep Throat. Although individuals immersed in malestream, normative thinking regarding gender and sexuality viewed the film as an intriguing and perhaps grotesquely fascinating representation of “sex,” radical feminists know that the accurate interpretation of this media representation is a replication of the culturally normative practice of treating women as sexual objects and physical receptacles (mouth, anus, and vagina are just “holes” for men to enter) who exist as such for male pleasure. This assessment is grounded in material reality rather than mere abstract philosophical speculation because we know the film involved a man inserting his penis in Linda Boreman’s mouth as well as a hollow glass dildo being stuck in her vagina while men sipped liquid from it.
Radical feminists can learn many lessons from these depictions, one of which is that culturally normative male sexuality is about disregarding the concept of female pleasure in sexuality or inverting it to promote the myth that women receive pleasure from giving men pleasure. These patriarchal myths are perpetuated through Deep Throat, and Steinem makes this reality plain upon noting that the director-writer of the film, Gerry Damiano, “decided to tell the story of a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, and who was constantly eager for oral sex with men” (267).
Here we see the inversion of biological reality, which is that the clitoris is a central and primary source of sexual pleasure for women, such that this component of female anatomy is geographically relocated to the back of a woman’s throat for the purpose of suggesting that having a penis inserted into a female’s mouth is physically stimulating in a manner that results in substantive pleasure. The reality, which Damiano diminished through this inversion of biological materiality, is that this form of oral sex has the primary impact of generating male, not female, pleasure. The pleasure is not mutual or equally distributed between both partners because the clitoris is indeed not located in the back of a woman’s throat.
Damiano’s mythological distortion of female sexuality and the female body reinforces male dominance by perpetuating the core patriarchal idea that women exist to service men. As a cultural artifact, the film reinforces the idea that this ideology can be legitimated through the development of fictional narratives regarding women’s biology.
The use of a hollow glass dildo in Deep Throat also upholds the mythology of male supremacy that is normalized within the pornographic realm. Steinem recounts this scene in context of the horrified response of Nora Ephron, a writer who, upon seeing this in the film, stated “All I could think about was what would happen if the glass broke” (268). I’m fairly confident that I would have responded similarly if I sat through a scene in which a hollow glass dildo was inserted into a woman’s vagina and then filled with Coca-Cola that was subsequently drunk through a surgical straw.
Yet when Ephron shared her concern with some male friends, they told her “that she was “overreacting” and that the Coca-Cola scene was “hilarious”” (268). This response reflects the desensitization that most people, particularly men, experience when confronted with the reality of female objectification coupled with the perpetuation of the idea that women’s bodies exist for the purpose of servicing men. In this case, the servicing grotesquely melded the realms of food and sex such that the source of male satisfaction involved being able to use a component of female anatomy for sexual titillation and the alleviation of thirst. (If the person who drank the Coca-Cola was actually thirsty, because it is quite plausible that he was not and just wanted to demonstrate the extent of his control over a female body by indicating that he could find more than one way to utilize her vagina and, given the opportunity, would do so. I think it’s also important to note that this component of the film reflects the male proclivity to utilize the power of creation and artistry in a perverse manner that involves misusing, obliterating, or disfiguring female bodies such that their process of “creation” is actually more comparable to “destruction,” making their “creative process” a patriarchal reversal (the opposite of what it claims to be). I think it’s also important to note what this specific form of patriarchal reversal might be rooted in, which is plausibly male jealousy over female anatomy and its capacity to give birth and life to a living thing, with the male perverted response being a proclivity for destroying the source of life, female bodies.)
The lies that men tell about female bodies through pornography are not limited to the mythology of a clitoris in the back of the throat or the insertion of a hollow glass dildo into a woman’s vagina. Chuck Traynor, Linda’s long-time abuser/husband, perpetuated myths regarding female psychology and anatomy by having her memorize a set of lies to recite regarding her role in pornographic films when interviewed by the public. This is why, when Nora Ephron interviewed Linda Boreman and asked how she felt about making Deep Throat, Boreman responded “I totally enjoyed myself making the movie” and “I don’t have any inhibitions about sex. I just hope that everybody who goes to see the film…loses some of their inhibitions” (268).
As Steinem notes, “Linda would later list these and other answers among those dictated by Chuck Traynor for just such journalistic occasions” (268). Furthermore, Traynor punished Boreman for showing any type of unacceptable emotion when he sold her for sex (paid rape). For example, Boreman cried after being successively raped by the five men Traynor sold her to. One of the men, apparently disturbed by her emotive response, refused to pay. Upon learning of this, Traynor punished her with physical abuse. In recounting this, Steinem notes that Boreman “had been beaten and raped so severely and regularly that she suffered rectal damage, plus permanent injury to the blood vessels in her legs” (268).
The reality of the physical and sexual abuse that Boreman suffered at the hands of Chuck Traynor as he sold her for paid rape is disturbing for several reasons, including the fact that it constitutes a form of severe dehumanization. This abuse is operative and real male depravity, not simulation or speculation.
Yet while the reality of male depravity is disturbing, the level of ignorance that the masses have regarding its occurrence within the realms of pornography and prostitution is perhaps even more disorienting. Collective resistance plays a key role in defanging male supremacy. Therefore, the reality that most individuals are not fully aware of the profound abuse that transpires within these realms of cultural acceptability means that there will be a lack of attention towards solving the problem because of a lack of awareness that there even is a problem.
Even though Boreman was forced to make the film Deep Throat at gunpoint, this is not what the viewers of the film saw. What they saw was her happy, smiling face in the film, with this depiction being utilized for promoting a multitude of male myths regarding female sexuality, including the fact that women are most sexually satisfied when they are satisfying men (which is one of the reasons that I think fellatio has become normative within heterosexual relationships despite how profoundly one-sided it is). The masses are unaware of the dynamic of violence that went into making this film and thus don’t even understand that Boreman was not a willing participant.
It is also disturbing to note that while many individuals may have been horrified to learn of the abuse behind Deep Throat, they would be unperturbed about watching a modern pornographic film in which a woman “willingly chose” to participate, but did not give consent for various sexual acts that were subsequently forced upon her — under the premise that “she is just acting” and therefore it’s “not real, just a creative depiction of sexuality without the typical inhibitions.” This type of abuse, along with so-called “revenge porn,” voyeur videos, rape fantasies, racist tropes, incest themes, and videos of child and adult sexual abuse, are common on modern porn websites that are accessible free, 24/7.
Thus while many people might be uncomfortable regarding the reality of a lack of female consent, they are unbothered by rape and abuse if it occurs in context of a “fantasy.” (I put the word fantasy in quotation marks here because the creation of pornographic films that involve this system of relationality is not entirely fantastical because the production required real actors and we also now know that many of the female actresses are not actually giving consent to portray themselves as not giving consent. Rather, they are actually being raped. In fact, many porn films are filmed rapes that were uploaded into communities of individuals who consume porn.)
With all of this in mind, there is an important point for radical feminists to consider: lack of female consent and arousal regarding forms of “sex” that take place in its absence appear to be a part of normative collective consciousness, also known as the mainstream. So, the low level of receptivity to banning porn and prostitution should perhaps be unsurprising and respected, meaning that radical feminists should perhaps redirect their energy away from convincing individuals who accept and appreciate the perversity of porn that it is a problem toward the development of alternative communities for those who want it to have neither central nor tangential impact and import in their lives.
As I continue to think critically about the sexual abuse of women, I find that new and old questions and concepts flourish in my psyche. One is an assertion that I have heard many ostensibly empathetic, sensitive individuals make regarding radical feminist discourse on sexual abuse. The assessment is: “Sometimes I think these radical feminists take the most grotesque, egregious cases of sexual abuse and present them to the public for either 1. shock value or 2. To promote the idea that these extreme cases are normative and widespread.”
Sometimes I think the people who make this statement have been trained to recite a line for the purpose of perpetuating fake conversations and false consciousness rather than engaging in a potentially awkward or life-altering discourse, or perhaps they simply don’t want to believe that abuse is as common as it actually is. I haven’t drawn clear conclusions regarding the motivation for the recitation yet. Anyway, there are many problems with these assertions, but I only wish to address one here.
The individuals who assert that extreme sexual abuse (such as that experienced by Linda Boreman) is somehow detached from what transpires in the mainstream heteronormative culture are submitting a misleading supposition. This is the case because even though most men are not traffickers and pimps, and most women are not trafficked or prostituted by these men, the majority of the male populace consumes the sexual objectification and assault of women in the form of pornography, prostitution, and/or attendance in strip clubs (where many young women are seasoned to go from stripping to prostitution).
Additionally, while it is not the fault of women that men engage in these nefarious activities, the majority of the female populace creates the conditions necessary for these depraved behaviors to continue through self-silencing, victim-blaming, and becoming a male apologist (ie, “Oh, he’s really a good guy. What we saw right there is not who he really is, just a mistake he made.” Blah blah blah.)
This is what the people who say that radical feminists are presenting extreme cases that don’t reflect what most men and women think and feel or would consent to need to understand: “Literally millions of women seem to have been taken to Deep Throat by their boyfriends or husbands (not to mention prostitutes who were taken by their pimps) so that each one might learn what a woman could do to please a man if she really wanted to. This instructive value seems to have been a major reason for the movie’s popularity, and its reach beyond the usual universe of male-only viewers” (267).
In reflecting on Steinem’s assertion here, it should be plain that the production and consumption of media depicting the sexual abuse of women and thwarting/inversion of female sexuality is an unequivocally mainstream endeavor. While the abuse that Boreman suffered may be considered extreme and not reflective of what most women experience in heteropatriarchy, most of the American populace is now actively contributing to the sustaining of industries that profit from the violation of her and other women trapped in the realms of prostitution (including pornography) and trafficking.
In summation, male supremacy in context of abortion laws is a significant topic that should continually be addressed. Yet, this newest manifestation of male supremacy should not sideline radical feminist discourse regarding the most egregious form of patriarchy, sexual abuse. As such, let’s keep talking about the sexual abuse of women, please.
Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1983.
Photo: MMIW marchers at a 2019 march in Washington D.C., taken by S L O W K I N G on Wikimedia. CC BY NC 3.0.