I am a woman in my 50’s and along with other types of abuse, I was subjected to male sexual abuse throughout my childhood and adolescence. As a result, I live with complex PTS[D], and chronic and severe dissociation.
I recently joined a private Facebook group that was instigated because of pervasive (alleged) male sexual violence perpetrated against women by members of Parliament in Australia. The group was formed to organise a march planned for March 15th 2021 and was initially called “Women for equality - Australia”, but apparently that name was deemed not “inclusive” enough and so the name was changed to “March 4 Justice”.
The group’s charter evolved to include a range of demands including the demand for a Federal ICAC. The group was “transgender” inclusive from the outset and males with a “transgender” or “non-binary” identity were welcome to take on administrator roles and be involved in the event planning. One male with a “transgender identity” was specifically invited by the women who are organising the event to keep so called “TERF” commentary in check.
This male person was invited to moderate and if necessary, silence certain female voices in the group. From the get-go, the group had already decided whose women’s voices were welcome and whose weren’t. The organisers felt entitled to exclude people who disagreed with an aspect of gender-identity ideology which posits men can change their sex and become women. I saw a conversation in the group describing how the admins would check out the Facebook profiles of women who had applied to join and would reject an application if they concluded a women’s views were “problematic” - for example, if an applicant seemed to be a feminist who centred females in her activism. Women were being censored even before they had a chance to join.
This male admin with a “transgender-identity” wrote a post commanding what women could and could not say and if they said the wrong thing, such as talking about their bodies or same sex attraction, they would be banned. He followed this comment up by stating that we’d be removed from the group if we focussed on the specific needs and interests of female people, which he labelled as “TERF/GC” “ideology”. I gently challenged the unfairness of silencing female voices and suggested that he lacked insight and sensitivity to the specific needs of female people. I invited him to reflect on his attitude and to listen to women’s experiences rather than speaking over them.
But he wasn’t having any of it and following his reminder for “naughty” feminists to stop talking about our unique female experiences, I was abruptly removed from the group. Before being ejected, I did read a comment from someone who told me I was shameful because my feminism centred female people.
It was upsetting and frustrating, particularly because I have only in very recent years found my voice and developed the courage to speak about my trauma and abuse history, only to then be silenced in a group about male violence perpetrated against women; a group that comfortably elevates men’s voices over women’s voices and excludes and bans women who are the “wrong” type of feminist. It felt utterly dystopian.
I was discriminated against and excluded, specifically because my feminism centres female people and because I accept biological reality. A woman involved in organising the march, stated in a tweet “We will not be silenced” and “We will no longer be silenced on the injustices that you continue to think is our birthright”. But obviously conditions apply regarding which women’s voices will not be silenced, because mine certainly was.