Cis Women Need to Be Able to Talk About Their Vaginas

Originally Posted 02/09/2015

I’m pro trans rights period. The last place I ever wanted to go was the Michigan Women’s Music Festival (who had a no trans women policy). I would rather listen to fingernails on a chalkboard than lesbian folk music. And I avoid events with workshops that use words like trigger warning, crystals, micro-aggression, processing, and goddess. Cool, just not my scene. I’m a staunch supporter of women’s rights but never related to that brand of feminism or lesbian feminism specifically. I have never had any problem with trans women’s inclusion in anything women related I have ever done. Although, I fully support the right of anyone to invite whoever they want to, at their events. I always keep an open mind on all issues and respect cis women’s right to feel safe but I am still waiting to see more evidence that transgender women have attacked women in bathrooms or that transitioning isn’t the best option for most people that desire it, two points some radical feminists focus on a lot. There is a crisis situation happening in the transgendered community in regards to the suicide and murder rate that deserves everyone’s compassion. Transgendered people want safety, respect, and dignity and are demanding it. I fully support that.

But some aspects of trans activism are becoming dysfunctionally cynical and controlling. More and more stories are being told by women that in locker rooms, female gathering spaces, support groups, and websites for queer women that they aren’t even allowed to reference their own body parts because mentioning a clitoris, vagina, or menstruation is “triggering,” hateful, and transphobic.

The most recent example of this was a major meltdown over cupcakes. A group of women from a women’s festival on a campus in Auckland, New Zealand were harassed by trans activists for having vagina cupcakes (vulva cupcakes technically) at an event because “not all women have vaginas.” They left comments on the Facebook site accusing the organizers of exclusion and contributing to the death of trans women. Another example is the cancelling of the traditional performing of The Vagina Monologues at Mount Holyoke. More and more personal experiences from non-radfem women that were/are often strong trans supporters are pilling up. I’m not going to cite them here because I don’t want to violate any of these website’s linking policies but there are plenty of stories.

We need to have a world for trans inclusion that doesn’t happen at the expense of cis women. For the entire history of the Western world the cock has been front and center. There is a very real need for women to be able to celebrate and talk comfortably about their vulvas/vaginas/menstruation online and in life. There is nothing wrong with a women’s festival having vulva cupcakes or an event with the word “pussy” in it. The organizers cancelled the vagina cupcakes and the “pussy” event, explaining that trans people have shown them the light that this is “Cunt Feminism.” They said that. Promoting vulva visibility is “Cunt Feminism” and an anathema to trans women! Is this ok? Sorry no. It isn’t. I am also not interested in interjecting my problems as a woman who loves women into every single discussion heterosexual women, who are the large majority of the female population, are going to naturally have about men and their sex and relationships with them. I’m not going to protest the Ashland Shakespeare Festival’s showing of Romeo and Juliet because it is too heteronormative and by default homophobic and not lesbian inclusive. I don’t plan on sending angry letters to Cosmo or Elle magazine every time they mention husbands, boyfriends, or blowjob techniques expecting them to mention lesbian sex/relationships every single time they have these discussions. Especially in a world where we have the Internet and social media to help us connect with people with our unique problems.

Here are some rational, logical reasons why cis woman still need a lot of support and freedom of expression around talking about their vulvas and vaginas.

In an Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: ARHP  “Vagina Dialogues” survey (2003)

  1. %27 of women douche.
  2. %55 of African-American women douche. The amount spent on vaginal deodorants in the US $50 million. Douching is widely regarded as unnecessary and unhealthy and women do it because they don’t like their bodies the way they are.

Harris Interactive� for the Vagisil Women’s Health CenterSM

  1. “A level of embarrassment in discussing women’s anatomy also exists, as the survey revealed that less than half (43 percent) of women indicating that they are completely comfortable discussing their genitals and using the word “vagina.”
  2. “Almost one in four women (23 percent) indicate that they are “very conscious” of their vaginal or external vaginal odor.

I could cite surveys/studies about woman and their insecurities/ignorance about their vaginas all day but you get the point. Open discussions and celebrations of cis women body parts are important for women’s physical health, self esteem, and supporting their comfort in having their partners perform oral sex on them. Trans women obviously have huge issues around their bodies as well (more than anybody) but this doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. Celebrating cis women’s bodies is necessary and important and shouldn’t be viewed as the “enemy” of trans people.

And lets talk about the elephant in the room here about the way this is being applied to women/lesbians and not men/gays. These debates are completely absent from straight men’s spaces and drastically less common in gay male spaces. Isn’t it problematic that heterosexual women and lesbians (especially) are expected to have their own discussions about their bodies policed and constantly dissected by modern queer theory but not heterosexual men and gay men? This imbalance going on in trans activism is odd.

I also don’t want to paint all trans women as being extremists or even just humorless because of conflicts like this. Plenty of minorities who are stressed and under pressure and oppressed become angry and radical. It’s a human trait not specific to any sub group. Many radical lesbians in the seventies hated all men and blamed the entirety of the world’s problems on them. Radical lesbians have threatened trans women with violence (and vice versa unfortunately). Other religious, cultural, and racial movements have members that become hostile and too indoctrinated in their beliefs.

But this kind of harassment and guilt tripping isn’t about trans inclusion. If it was about trans inclusion, trans women would have simply asked the organizers of the women’s event if they could participate by having a booth, passing out mental/physical health information, and bringing their own adorable and delicious trans woman cupcakes complete with whatever combination of sex characteristics they so desired. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about some trans women’s resentment of cis women’s bodies. That’s how it appears anyway. Or at the very least it’s about a constant need for validation by controlling everything most women need to say about their own lives at all times. And this cannot coexist with any kind of shared experience in supporting all types of women.

I have also seen a lot of intolerance being directed at people (young lesbians online mostly) for their dating preferences or gay men’s and lesbian’s understandable concern that some dysphoric children may just grow up to be a homosexual and my not need hormone blockers. So I think this is just becoming part of this whole movement.

Update: Another cupcakes=trans death meltdown here. This wasn’t even a “Women’s” event. Just a vagina positive one. Even discussing vaginas is violence. Sorry it’s The DailyCaller- but I have verified the story is real.

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