Saturday, 22 March 2014

Feminist Theory Continues To Undermine LGBT Rights

“Those are people, quite often for example lesbians, who feel very strongly that marriage is a 2,000-year-old vehicle for the subjugation of women, and they don’t like it at all. And I think what we have succeeded in doing, certainly with Stonewall stakeholders and our support has continued to rise throughout that period, is to persuade them that even if they don’t want to get married, other people should be able to.”
So said Ben Summerskill, former head of the charity Stonewall, in the recent radio retrospective of LGB rights in the UK "Gay Rights: Tying The Knot?". He was defending that organisations "caution" over same-sex marriage (for which note: not only were the words he used in 2010 less cautious and more "oppositional" but even their behind-the-scenes attempts to convince the Government same-sex marriage wasn't needed to fix issues affecting trans folk were anything but "cautious"). What his statements seem to imply is that in 2010 the freedoms of LGBT people were dependent upon what feminist theory says about the institution of marriage. Yes, Stonewall really did take seriously the idea that a marriage between two women might cause them to subjugate each other and let us not even get started on the evil subjugation of women that might result from two men marrying each other. Thank you Stonewall for persuading feminists to agree to my right to marry, getting their stamp of approval for the Government treating us as citizens worthy of similar rights and protections to other citizens was important to many of us.

I'm very concerned that feminist theory (rather than a genuine concern for the liberty of men, women and intersex people) continues, even 40 years after the first criticisms of its negative influence on LGBT liberty, to subjugate LGBT people's rights to the agenda of a minority of radical feminists.

Further examples of feminist influence on Stonewall, and the way they deal with LGBT rights in the light of this influence, can be found in the post-Summerskill document "Staying Safe Online". Ruth Hunt, the current acting head of Stonewall, starts the document off with this:

Unfortunately, as we’re increasingly aware, the internet has a darker side. Young people are encouraged to develop an overly sexualised view of relationships as a result of the widespread prevalence of pornography and many young people are creating sexual images of themselves.
The document attacks pornography further with the usual attempt to conflate porn with images of child abuse.
Pornography exposes young people to unhealthy, sexualised portrayals of relationships and often portrays unsafe or underage sex 
Attacks on pornography and a sex negative polemics are signs of either fundamentalist religion or feminism. Stonewall has either found God or remains dangerously mislead by an agenda that is opposed to LGBT liberty.

 The debates over the effects of pornography on those who view it and on the possibility of over "sexualisation" of children are not over. Evidence points in both directions and there is a genuine concern that in our attempts to "protect" children we are in danger of undermining their freedom and the freedom of adults to engage in harmless activities (see here)

The rights of women to liberty do not conflict with LGBT rights. Women's liberation is something we should all be fighting for (along with liberation for everyone else too!). But feminism, with its worryingly puritanical and militant outlook on the world, DOES conflict with LGBT people's ability to live the life they want to live. We must oppose sex-negativism and authoritarianism within the LGBT movement before our real opponents get wise and join forces with folks like Stonewall to interfere with our freedom.

1 comment:

Paul Brownsey said...

Well said, Jae.

I always find it a bit odd when people say they won't get married because marriage was an institution for owning and controlling women, 'given away' from one man to another, etc. Even if it was like that once upon a time, the law that define marriage aren't like that now, so it seems silly to deny yourself the institution as it now is because once upon a time it was anti-woman. It's a bit like refusing to go to Oxford or Cambridge because, once upon a time, they wouldn't admit women or refused them fully-fledged degrees. In both cases the response is or would be *silly*.