ESSENTIALISING BULLSHIT

I suppose the story of Tara Hudson is old news now that she is serving her sentence in a women’s prison.  I am not going to say anything on what she did or about whether a brief custodial sentence was appropriate although some might think that prisons are overcrowded enough and that sentences like this are ultimately pointless. Neither will I say anything about the idiotic decision to send her to a male prison simply because she hasn’t gone through the hassle and expense  of obtaining a gender recognition certificate when prison regulations already allow transgender prisoners without certificates to be considered on a case by case basis, and particularly where prisoners have already embarked on the process of physical transition.

No, I want to talk about something else. You see, I took it as read that people, or thinking people at any rate, would consider the decision to transfer Tara to a women’s prison to be the correct one. Then I stumbled across a discussion on Twitter. I should perhaps have realised that some radical feminists would have a problem with this, as they seem to believe that   trans women are men pretending to be women to access women only spaces. The argument was that violent men who transition remain violent and by their continuing to commit acts of violence prove that they are still really men. Which, in effect is saying that committing violence is a man thing.

Men are perpetrators, women, if they are involved at all, are victims.  On this analysis men and women are essentially and fundamentally different ab ovo .  This assigning of behavioural characteristics on the basis of biological sex seems however strangely at odds with the usual radical feminist  claim that transgenderism is damaging precisely because the aim of feminism is the abolition of gender roles which transgender people reaffirm by their very transition. It is not clear how you can consistently argue that gender is a social construct at the same time as holding that certain types of behaviour are inherently linked to the genitals you were born with.  Not for the first time radical feminism appears mired in contradiction.

This all reminds me of a discussion I had in the bar during my student days. One student, a self proclaimed anti-feminist Marxist expressed forcefully his view that much contemporary feminism was “essentialising bullshit.” Reading some of these rad fem tweets about Tara Hudson it was hard not to agree.