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In this view, gender is less an identity than a caste position. Anyone born a man retains male privilege in society; even if he chooses to live as a woman—and accept a correspondingly subordinate social position—the fact that he has a choice means that he can never understand what being a woman is really like. By extension, when trans women demand to be accepted as women they are simply exercising another form of male entitlement. All this enrages trans women and their allies, who point to the discrimination that trans people endure; although radical feminism is far from achieving all its goals, women have won far more formal equality than trans people have. In most states, it’s legal to fire someone for being transgender, and transgender people can’t serve in the military. A recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found overwhelming levels of anti-trans violence and persecution. Forty-one per cent of respondents said that they had attempted suicide.
(Abolitionism was the word used for the more radical branch of anti-slaveryreformism; feminism was a word that was invented deliberately in France somedecades later and was not, to my knowledge, found in the time of theTranscendentalists.) Why social reform, and why these issues in particular?
The term “feminism” has long been wrongly attributed to Fourier. It could be borrowed from Alexandre Dumas son, who wrote in 1872: “Feminists, allow me this neologism, say all evil comes from the unwillingness of the society to acknowledge the fact that woman is equal to man, she should be given the same education and the same rights as men.” However, it had taken its current meaning by the late nineteenth century. It was during the French Revolution, with the assertion of natural laws, that the movement for these social and political claims was born.
Commonly referred to as “double jeopardy”, black feminism is one of the 10 unusual essay topics on feminism to consider. It is an interesting essay topic because being a black woman not only exposes an individual to racism and sexism, but also to cross-racial sexism.
In China, the concept of gender difference appears visually in the male/female aspects of the yin/yang Taoist symbol. The dark swirl within the symbols circle is the passive, yielding, feminine yin; the light swirl the active, aggressive, male yang. Neither principle is considered subordinate to the other; each complements the other and is capable of expressing both female and male characteristics. Within Taoism, then, women were able to seek spiritual fulfillment beyond their family duties. Some joined convents, others gathered with men to discuss philosophy and religion, a few became Taoist adepts.
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And so they deliberately wentabout creating literature, essays, novels, philosophy, poetry, and other writingthat were clearly different from anything from England, France, Germany, or anyother European nation.
In Japan, the influence of Shintoism lessened the initial impact of NeoConfucian on womens lives. Within Shintoism women held power as mikos, a type of shaman with divination abilities. Before the 8th century, half of Japans reigning female sovereigns, such as the popular semi-legendary empress Jingu, were believed to have shaman-like powers. Japans sun goddess Amaterasu, to whom every emperor has had to claim direct descendancy, was also worshiped as a symbol of female mystical power. Her Great Shrine at Ise, cared for by high priestesses, still plays an important role in the lives of the Japanese today.
On May 24th, a few dozen people gathered in a conference room at the Central Library, a century-old Georgian Revival building in downtown Portland, Oregon, for an event called Radfems Respond. The conference had been convened by a group that wanted to defend two positions that have made radical feminism anathema to much of the left. First, the organizers hoped to refute charges that the desire to ban prostitution implies hostility toward prostitutes. Then they were going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women.
The more positive influences of Shintoism were weakened by the samurai culture and spread of Confucianism and Buddhism in Japan. Yet, in the Heian era (950-1050 C.E.) women still held relative equity in marriage, education, and property rights. Gender difference in this period favored literate women who were free to write in the expressive, popular vernacular language, while men most often wrote in the more formal, inaccessible, classical Chinese. Both the independence and the gender limits of women of the pampered elite are wonderfully illustrated in the lively, gossipy writings of , Sei Shogonon, and other Heian female writers.
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