Grievous Bodily Harm: How the GOP and “Radical Feminists” Teamed Up to Attack Women’s Autonomy
After a night of restless sleep following the leak of an initial majority draft by Justice Alito that suggested overturning Roe v. Wade, I woke up yesterday morning with a migraine to see prominent anti-trans journalist Suzanne Moore blaming trans people because of course she was. “I really hope all you fools who think biology is something you can opt-out of, that womanhood is a mere identity,” she spat on Twitter, “that mothers are just birthing people understand what happens when you stop fighting for women’s rights.”
I sighed, popped the REALLY strong ibuprofen, and tried to move on with my day because let’s be honest, none of this is especially surprising even while it’s incredibly angering. Conservatives have been gunning for Roe v. Wade ever since it happened, and Suzanne Moore has been an unhinged transphobe for probably as long as I’ve been alive, so no real shock there.
But my brain couldn’t let go of the absolute bullshit that is a woman who writes for right-wing papers because “they let me say what I want” not having the critical thinking available to consider that perhaps that’s because she’s arguing the same bigoted things as evangelical Christians and white supremacists.
Not that this is shocking, by any means. “Radical” “feminists”, who apparently stopped critically thinking about their feminism after the second wave and betray themselves to be neither radical nor feminist, have been wallowing in this hypocrisy ever since the 80s. Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon were happy to work alongside conservatives who didn’t want to give women bank accounts, as long as they also managed to ban pornography. James C Dobson was among the first to reach out an eager hand; he is an evangelical who founded a group you may be familiar with, Focus on the Family, which lobbies against (amongst other things) LGBTQ rights, sex education, divorce, and, interestingly enough, abortion.
Now TERFs are claiming that it’s trans activism that has threatened Roe V. Wade. I have to challenge that. I suspect that 40 years of second-wave feminists buddying up to conservative Christians to restrict and ban sex work and trans people “in the name of women’s rights” might have a lot more to do with it. It was these “feminists” who gave conservative lobbyists the pseudo-philosophical language for their anti-trans laws, after all. In return, these conservatives financially supported, signal boosted, and hired them. What a beautiful, horrible, mutually parasitic relationship.
And now these same “feminists” want to go all shocked Pikachu about the conservatives gleefully dismantling Roe V. Wade? Are you serious? Did they truly not suspect that their grift wasn’t going to last forever, and that yes, the leopards-eating-faces party would, eventually, eat their faces? I don’t think they’re that ignorant, but judging from the reactionary posts I’ve been seeing, I wonder. Women like Moore are trying to blame literally anyone else when it was in fact clearly TERFs who gave conservatives the language that enabled this snowball to start rolling downhill, who quietly took evangelical money, who let their vitriol boost the very misogyny they claim to be against. This was absolutely the endgame of the conservatives holding hands with second wavers all along, and to act like it’s a surprise is to be disingenuous.
Here’s the thing. Once you start saying that the government has a right to tell you what medical care you can and cannot access for, say, trans people, it’s pretty easy to let that slime trickle up the chain. Abortion, birth control, and access to gender-affirming healthcare — it is the same issue, at the core — whether or not religious bigotry can be codified through the government and enforced by the violent gang known as the police.
While for understandable reasons the media is very focused on the SCOTUS leak and what it may mean for the future of abortion, birth control, and medical privacy in this country, it’s absolutely key to remember that nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills (and counting) were filed in the first three months of 2022, most of them targeting trans people. That’s up from 41 in 2018. It doubled in 2020, the year Biden took office, and I don’t think that’s coincidental. The conservative lobby is trying to overwhelm us, to make us juggle all the issues (trans rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, student debt, Medicare for All, Covid response, climate change) in the hopes we drop a ball, preferably more than one. I don’t know that they care which fights they win, they just hope that if they overwhelm the Democrats, they’ll concede somewhere and that’ll be one step closer to the enforced trad wife future conservatives crave. Judging how well Democrats have done fighting against this onslaught, I think the conservative lobbyists are right, which is fucking depressing and angering.
I know we’re all sick and tired and underpaid and overworked. We’ve been fighting for so long on so many fronts and here we are needing to put up our dukes again. But we have to. We need to fight with both hands. Failure isn’t an option — this is life or death, not just in our lifetimes, but in the lifetimes of the next generation and the one after that. We can pace ourselves — this activism needs to be sustainable — but we also have GOT to spur the Democrats and centrists we know into action. Voting is great, but voting is clearly not enough — if it was, we wouldn’t be here. Protesting is good too, and I’m all for it, but I think the main thing we can do is offer our hands, our time, and our money to people doing direct action on the ground.
To that end: here is a list of organizations to support that are fighting to protect LGBTQ bodily autonomy, and here is a list of organizations to support that are fighting for reproductive rights and access to abortion. Fund both. Volunteer for both. Signal boost both. It’s the same fight, in the end, and we need both fists to punch back against patriarchal white supremacist theocracy.