Rape Relief v. Nixon, transphobia, and the value of women-only space: An interview with Lee Lakeman

Although the Nixon v. Rape Relief case was settled back in 2007, with a dismissal of Kimberly Nixon’s request to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeals decision (that decision being that “Vancouver Rape Relief has the right to prefer to train women who have never been treated as anything but female”), the case continues to be a source of controversy. In an effort to address misinformation, accusations of “transphobia”, and to give Lee Lakeman the opportunity to respond to some points that came up in an interview The F Word’s Nicole Deagan did with Susan Stryker, I spoke with her over the phone last week. I’ve posted the audio and the transcript of that interview below.

Meghan Murphy: Can you give me some background on this case?

Lee Lakeman: It must be 15 years ago now…What happened is that a male-to-female transsexual, although we didn’t know whether Nixon was a transsexual right away, arrived at a training group — that’s a pretty easy thing to do because Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter has a pretty open policy about who can train; we have three screening questions that are kind of the bottom line – if you get past the first three screening questions which essentially show that you’re willing to learn, then you’re welcome into the training group. But at that point, and this is many years ago, it was fairly obvious to everybody that it was women-only.

So when this person appeared in training group (I wasn’t there) – the three women who were on duty identified this person as either not living as a woman or not always having lived as a woman. One of them took Nixon aside and asked politely “How long have you been living as a woman?” and then explained to Nixon that we had a commonly held belief that women are born into oppressive circumstances and shaped every day of their lives from the day that they are born by being labeled girls and women and therefore treated as girls and women and that that’s the experience we use all the time to talk to rape victims and assaulted women when they come forward. That’s the common ground that we use to establish a peer relationship with them.

So what the women explained to Nixon was that Nixon didn’t have those experiences and therefore would not be invited into the training group. The next day, Nixon went to B.C. Human Rights and complained of being mistreated.

MM: As you know, some people, as a result of this specific case have accused Vancouver Rape Relief of being what they call “transphobic”. Can you respond to that?

LL: I’d say it’s an easy and a silly accusation really. Rape Relief has been part of calls for human rights legislation that would protect transsexual and transgender people and would have been happy to make common cause with Nixon about other things that had happened. For instance Nixon says there was once a job as a pilot that Nixon lost — I can’t remember exactly why it was dropped but it certainly had to do with transsexual rights and you know, we would have been willing to support that fight and there were other fights about housing, jobs — basic things that we would be willing to fight for. What we weren’t willing to do was to say that our group has to change it’s membership criteria.

MM: And I know that a lot of people seem to have confused the Nixon case with the idea that women’s shelters would refuse to help trans women who had been raped – what are your thoughts on that? Are those issues related?

LL: No they aren’t related. It was clearly argued in court that we did take calls, we had taken calls, and that we referred whenever we could to appropriate services and we sometimes had directly helped and so that was not an issue in the case. One of the elements that people don’t know is that Rape Relief operates as a collective, so women who come forward to help are intending to join the collective and to be a clear part of the decision-making once they’re in the collective and that’s what was at stake in this situation.

MM: Along those lines, Susan Stryker, in her interview with my co-host, Nicole Deagan, said in reference to the Nixon case that she is “not a fan of separatist spaces” so I’m wondering if you can comment on that and comment on the value of women-only spaces? Is women-only space important, particularly within the context of Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter?

LL: Yes, it’s critically important. I mean, not everyone needs to be a fan of separatist spaces and you don’t need separatist spaces to do everything or every kind of revolting but you do need to do separatist organizing if you want to fight back as a group of Aboriginal people, for example, which this law has affected; if you want to fight back as a group of women, you need, at some point, to say “men can’t join the group” and you need to, at some point, say, “Even though sex and gender may be on a continuum, where are you marking the line on the continuum for who’s in your group?” You still, at some point, have to decide where is the boundary around your group and the group that you’re trying to work for or work with.

MM: My understanding is that what this case was about was about Rape Relief being able to define their own membership. So when you say this law affects Aboriginal people, is that what you mean?

LL: Since our case, there have been other cases in which Aboriginal people used the arguments that we built in court to defend their right to be only Aboriginals in their group. It’s very important. If you believe that class and race and gender are key categories of struggle in our society then you have to, at some point ask yourself – are working class people allowed to exclude the rich from their group when they want to talk to each other about what the strategies should be and how they should move forward? Are racialized people allowed to have a group of their own? In Canadian law there is permission for such things and the law says, yes, it is discriminatory in the sense of the total, literal use of the word; yes, you are deciding who is going to be in your group and you are allowed to say – my group is not for all Aboriginal people – it’s only for the people in this band or it’s only for the people involved in this issue…You’re allowed to do that and you’re certainly allowed to say: “we don’t want white people in our group, we don’t want men in our group or we’re not fighting primarily for people in any other place on this continuum – we’re fighting for this group and because we’re fighting for this disadvantaged, already named disadvantaged group, we’re allowed to make those decisions.”

MM: My understanding is that there are other places where men and in this case, transgender people could volunteer at Rape Relief, just not in this specific capacity that Kimberly Nixon wanted to? Is that right?

LL: We have had, for a long time, a mixed group that operates technically outside of Rape Relief but it’s still a committee of ours that raises money and works as a mixed group in support of Rape Relief. But within the shelter, within the rape crisis line, within our building, it’s women-only and it’s women-only for a reason. We did not want battered women who come to the front door to have to confront this issue and decide – because they would have to decide –“Is this person a danger to me?” “Is this person in drag?” “Is this person real?” – and that’s exactly what they would have been facing.

MM: And finally, another comment made by Susan Stryker that I wanted to give you the opportunity to respond to — she questioned why Vancouver Rape Relief wouldn’t just let someone volunteer who wanted to volunteer and asked why Rape Relief “cared more about expressing their transgender politics than they did about the potential affect that it could have on the reduction of services to other people.” So I think that’s implying that Rape Relief chose to go to court and fight this and that could potentially take away from services?

LL: Well there’s two key points. We didn’t choose to go to court, we were taken to court by the human rights complaint. We, in fact, tried to settle out of court, tried to offer alternatives to Nixon, including regrets for Nixon’s hurt feelings, we tried fairly hard to stay out of a legal battle because it didn’t seem to us that either transsexual rights or women’s rights were going advanced by asking the court, “the man”, to decide it. So that’s the first thing – it was not our call…It was definitely not our call. But having been dragged into it, we had no alternative but to defend ourselves because it does matter to us that we had built a service and a self-organized collective in which we’re entitled to make those decisions and we did not have to fold up because somebody had a different idea.

MM: Thank you so much for talking with me about this. I’m wondering if there’s anything else that you’d like to add.

LL: I guess I want to say that all this material is written down. If you go to the Rape Relief website, you can see the things that were argued in court, the newspaper clippings, the press releases that we did — it’s hard for me to remember the point-by-points, it’s so long ago now but there are also many things written intelligently and comprehensively in the Feminist Law Journal and in the Canadian Women’s Studies journal.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Fantastic interview. I was unaware of all the specifics of the case but this interview made it much more clear.

  • ned

    The papers in the journals she references are also excellent for getting the details straight. Great interview.

  • Thank you for this interview, and this transcription.

  • I understand their reasons for the decision, and on the whole I respect it. What bothers me are questions like these: “Is this person in drag? Is this person real?” Questions like that betray the fact that the true political statement being made here is that trans women are not “real” women. Women are different in many ways, and I don’t mind VRR restricting membership to women who have had certain experiences. I respect woman of color only groups on the same grounds. But Lee’s questions construct trans women once again as a hostile threat, as men in drag, as “not real” — and that is a tired, untrue trope that I have serious problems with. They don’t have to open Rape Relief to trans women; but for goddess’s sake, at least treat them like REAL people.

    • Rusty

      But someone who appears to be a man IS a hostile threat to a recently raped woman. They’re not concerned with what you call ‘tropes’, they’re in survival mode after a devastating trauma. I would think we could cut them a bit of slack about the questions they ask as they’re seeking help in what they need to believe is a safe environment to do so.

      • VRR doesn’t have to let trans women in; but calling them “not real” is pure hostility and there’s no point or purpose. I have been raped before, and I work at a domestic violence services agency, and quite honestly, our clients don’t spend much time thinking about who is or isn’t “real”. They aren’t scanning the room looking for any sign of drag queens. All they care about is that they are far away from their particular abuser, and that they won’t have to leave until they are ready. I am not advocating for trans women becoming rape counselors, but this whole idea that trans woman = man = rapist is patently false and calling them “not real” is hurtful.

        • RR does not have a position on what makes a “real woman”. Lee was describing what *might* go through the mind of a woman coming to RR for advocacy or shelter–ah, i see Quixote made this point. they don’t ‘scan the room’, but they’re going to be alert and troubled anyway, they don’t need to be in a position of trying to either determine whether someone is or was male or if they need to somehow take care of them. No one said that transsexuals were rapists.

          • Ryan

            The introduction to the article certainly describes what *was* going through the staff’s mind at the time in a posttraumatic “Day I’ll Never Forget” fashion
            when the question was/is “how long have you been a woman?” what is the correct answer? does the answer matter; now or ever?
            I hope Nixon is proud with her efforts, you only lose if you don’t try.

      • Anonymous

        Because women never are raped by other women, so, you know
        let’s just erase that, because it can fit your idea of rape.

    • I think Lee was trying to express the thoughts of a traumatized woman, one who might not at that moment be feeling very tolerant, and was not trying to make a statement about trans-ness.

    • You are conflating being a real woman with being a real human being. I think it would be incredibly helpful if trans people and their supporters stopped making gender identity of such paramount importance that its invalidation is seen as invalidating someone’s humanity. Needing validation and reacting as though your humanity had been destroyed when it isn’t forthcoming points to a mental health issue that needs to be treated.

  • Lysandra

    Thank you for this! I had heard bits and pieces about this story, but as someone relatively new to radical feminism I was unfamiliar with many of the details discussed here.

  • Ryan

    I wish Rape Relief was capable of teaching trainer skills sufficient to answer client concerns for “Is this person a danger to me?” “Is this person in drag?” “Is this person real?”

    • Rusty

      I wish I lived in a world where a traumatized women doesn’t feel the need to ask those questions.

    • It isn’t the councilor who feels in danger by the presence of men in dresses, but recently raped women. And btw, I was recently sexually assaulted by a mtf who claimed to be 100% “lesbian”. I was able to get away, but other women aren’t so lucky.

      It’s worth noting that I have never been sexually assaulted, stalked, harassed, groped, cat-called or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable by any actual lesbian yet that sort of behavior is committed by transgended”women”. I’m not calling all men in dresses rapists, but some of them are and I have no way of knowing which ones are and which ones aren’t.

      • I’m sure Nicole would probably demand vidotape. Sorry, fresh out. But anybody who knows me also is aware that I work with trans, and have spent literally thousands of hours with them. Which is precisely why I think most of them are freaking NUTS.

        This is has not been the first attempted assault from a trans and I’m sure it won’t be the last. HELLO.

        • oops sorry. I meant to say that the trans who assaulted me claimed to be 100% heterosexual.

        • It’s also worth noting that I’ve spent thousands of hours with regular men and none of them have felt compelled to assault me. It’s only trans who feel that entitled. It’s weird the way they’re hyper-feminine but also hyper-entitled at the same time. It’s like the middle ground just doesn’t exist.

      • I dated a lesbian for a year who would show up at my apartment late at night uninvited to “hang out” and then spend the next hour either trying to guilt (ie: coerce) me into having sex or giving her money. When I broke up with her, her response was that she behaved that way because she “never considered me ‘real’ girlfriend material” and that she had only stuck around to “have fun.” Yeah. No fucking joke. So, while I am not trying to dismiss your experience of assault, but there are lesbians who are capable of being coercive, violent and hurtful.

        I know the next thing I’m going to hear is “but it’s not the same thing if it’s a woman doing it” and to that I say, bullshit. Coercion is coercion. Rape is rape. Assault is assault, no matter what the perpetrator has between their legs. Also, how did this turn into a conversation about lesbians vs. trans women anyway? The VRR case had nothing to do with comparing how lesbians act to how anyone else acts. Seriously, I don’t have a problem with VRR’s decision regarding Nixon. What pisses me off is this continued insistence on referring to trans women as “not real” or “men in dresses” and treating them ALL as assumed rapists who can never be proven innocent. You don’t have to let them into your spaces if you don’t want, but they are human beings and women as worthy of respect as anyone else.

        • Hi No Wave Feminist,

          I would not say rape is not rape if a woman is doing it. Of course, rape perpetuated by women takes place. However, that the “women do it too!” argument comes up goes to show that we all know women do not rape in anywhere near the numbers that men do. It is not other women that women are afraid of when walking alone at night, but men. Who benefits from a woman raping another woman? Do women, as a class?

          • m Andrea said: “It’s worth noting that I have never been sexually assaulted, stalked, harassed, groped, cat-called or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable by any actual lesbian”

            The only reason to include that in this conversation is to suggest that lesbians are somehow more pure than everyone else and/or incapable of assaulting someone. That’s wishful thinking, and patently false. Her experience does not represent every woman’s experience with lesbians or lesbian culture. I’m a queer cis woman, born with all the “right” body parts, and quite frankly, most of the lesbians I’ve met and/or dated were arrogant as fuck and treated any woman who wasn’t a lesbian like shit.

            Yes, men rape in much greater numbers, and women have good reason to feel afraid walking alone at night. I have been raped by a man before, I get that. What I can’t stand is this insistence that trans women are “men” and are therefore just as suspicious. As an anarcha-feminist who is against the state telling me what I can/cannot do with my body, I would think that most radical feminists would share my view that bodily autonomy is a crucial human right, and that no one has the right to NAME anyone else’s body either. (Butch lesbians hate it when people call them men, either by accident or on purpose, right? Then stop calling trans women something that they aren’t!) Apparently even though trans women have to fight for access to transition services and face harassment and possible murder from society at large, they are still “men” because we don’t feel like recognizing their right to name and own their own bodies. What happened to biology is not destiny? Why are intersex bodies conveniently brushed under the rug as a “minority” that is too small to mean anything?

            And no, this isn’t me saying that cis women should be forced to share space with trans women in a shelter or rape crisis centers. Those centers have the right to set their own rules, and I respect that. But stop dehumanizing trans women in these conversations. There is no need. Stop calling them men and asking questions like “are they real?” YES, they are real. And they have the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination, just like the rest of us do.

          • Discordia

            Thank you thank you. I hate how dehumanizing some of these radical feminists are….Mary Daly actually called trans women frankenstenion and said they should be mandated out of existence. Germane Greer and JAnice Reynolds saiid equally dehumanizing things, and acted as if trans women were preditors. Gloria Steinmen who I actually do admire was unfortuantly very transphobic. So it is aa complete lie when they act ike trans women are being big meanies when THEY are the ones using incredibly demaning language then wondering golly gee why are they sending us hate mail.
            Not to mention they completly erase trans men or act like they are bowing down to the patriarchy

          • ned

            Hi No Wave Feminist,

            The reference to the “realness” of transwomen usually has to do with the fact that biofemales and biomales are socialized differently from birth, so the assumption is that despite identifying as women, transwomen have benefitted from their male socialization and are unable to relate to some core female experiences. One example I can think of is this: many transwomen enjoy it when they start receiving street harassment because this indicates to them that they are now passing as “real” women. What is typically a pretty unpleasant and traumatizing experience for most biofemales around the world, is something that they enjoy. (Ironically, as a biofemale I usually have more in common with transmen than with transwomen, because at least the former know what it’s like to be socialized as a woman from childhood.)

            Additionally, people do often feel “deceived” when they find out that someone presenting as a woman was male at birth or that someone presenting as a man was female at birth. That’s not necessarily transphobic; people who modify their bodies in extreme ways (not just trans people) will often be perceived as deceiving themselves or others in some way. You can disagree with such reactions but people will likely have them.

            Biology is indeed destiny at least as far as your body goes. Sexual dimorphism is simply a fact of the human condition; the vast majority of humans are either male or female with less than 1% born with intersexed conditions, and even they ultimately view themselves as male or female with intersex conditions rather than as a third sex. Even after transitioning, the internal organs of trans people remain those of the sex they were born as at birth and their health issues and medical risks are often determined by that. A transwoman will never have a uterus and is not affected by reproductive rights issues, for instance. It simply makes no sense to take the Julia Serano line of approach and stop talking about a “war on women” in the context of reproductive rights and instead talk about a “war on people with uteri” (yes, she actually tweeted this, saying that the phrase “war on women” alienated her as an “infertile” woman).

            With all due respect, this is taking trans-inclusion to a point where we are losing touch with reality. The world does not revolve around people’s subjective gender identities, nor should it have to. If we are prevented from referring to “women” as what’s usually called a “natural kind”, the typical feminist class-based analysis of patriarchal oppression and structural inequalities between men and women can no longer even be expressed. I’m currently making my way through Julia Serano’s book and I disagree with much of it because it is fundamentally at odds with a class-based analysis of male-female relations (most postmodern, queer theory type of approaches are).

            Now all this said, I agree that many radfeminists have and still use language for trans people that, if not outright dehumanizing, is at the very least unconscionably impolite and abusive. That said, it simply does not make sense to deny sexual dimorphism as an inherent aspect of the human condition, and to deny that being born male or female leads to different kinds of socialization in the context of structural inequality between men and women. I just don’t see any political or pragmatic value in dissolving the distinction between trans folks and biomales or biofemales, which as I pointed out in the previous discussion thread that spun out of control, is something unique to the Western hemisphere.

          • ned

            Just to be clear, I myself have no problems respecting the gender identity of transwomen, and addressing them by their preferred pronouns. I also have no problems with people wanting to transition (though it’s not something I would recommend to anyone — those procedures are very extreme, and like all extreme surgeries it’s often hit-and-miss, with some people passing very convincingly after transition and others, not so much.) I just think that both biologically and experientially, there are several differences between biofemales and transwomen, and that it harms the political struggles of biofemales to ignore or erase these differences. The “war on women” vs “war on people with uteri” switch being a case in point — I hope it’s self-explanatory why that kind of shift is potentially quite harmful for women as a class.

          • ned

            See here:

            “I am not a boy after I get the surgery/ after I go on testosterone/ after I get my name changed legally. I do not want to be a boy, I am not planing to be a boy, I AM A BOY! And no, I was NOT “born a girl” I was born a boy with defective genitalia. That is my problem, not yours, but if you refuse to see me as a boy, then YOU have problems.”

            This is what I’m talking about — denial of sexual dimorphism. No trans person was born with the body associated with their preferred gender identity — a transman was not born a boy with “defective genitalia”, that is a completely ridiculous and baseless statement.

          • No Wave Feminist

            I’ve said several times that I acknowledge that cis and trans women have had different experiences and don’t necessarily need to be treated as exactly the same all the time. But calling trans women “men” is not okay regardless.

            I also find this whole “biology is not destiny, unless you’re trans” thing to be completely hypocritical and unfair. It can’t be both ways. Either your sex forever binds you to a gender or it doesn’t.

          • riv

            Unfair? Yes, I guess nature is unfair. Talakova is forever Male, no matter how much surgery he has, or how much carcinogenic chemicals he takes, or how many beauty pagents he enters. He’s a guy.

            Your sex forever binds you to your sex. It’s biology, not radical feminism. We’re just the messengers.

          • No Wave Feminist

            Being male doesn’t bind you to forever being a guy though. “Guy” is a set of arbitrary characteristics that have been collected and socially defined as “what males always do.” Just like “girliness” is defined as “what females always do.” Sex and gender are different. And I recognize that sex differences are sometimes important, but the only reason that butch women, femme gay men, trans men and trans women get so much shit from the world is because the patriarchy does not tolerate gender deviance. It pains me to see feminists do exactly the same thing.

            Biology is not destiny. I may have the capacity to bear children, but that does not mean that I am required to be a mother. I was born female, but I am not required to act “womanly.” Nor is a trans woman who was born male required to be a “guy.”

          • Q

            Gender is a social construct. A trans man is born a boy, a trans man who always knew he was a boy would take in the messages about what being male means the same way as a cis boy would. A trans woman is born a girl, a trans woman who always knew she was a girl would take in the messages about what being a woman was the same way as a cis girl would. Your conflation of gender with genitalia implies you think there are real differences between people with vaginas and people with penises, inherent differences that transcend social construction and institutional power systems. This is the same tools the patriarchy uses to oppress people, and you should worry about how you’re using them to oppress trans women.

          • In my experience, feminist analysis of transgenderism are never seriously engaged with, meaning in terms of content, no matter what the language used.

  • I know very little about the issues surrounding trans people. I only have one trans friend (FTM), and I’ve done a bit of reading, but that’s it.

    So I’m probably displaying my ignorance, but I’m boggled that somebody, anybody, would try to crash a rape counseling center. If there’s any work that requires greater ability to listen and not to push, I can’t think of it. So insisting on being part of a group that doesn’t want her would seem to be a disqualification all by itself, regardless of gender or biology.

    In a very different way, I’m also a bit boggled that it doesn’t seem to be obvious that the crucial element is social power. Exclusion is qualitatively different when done by powerful groups or powerless ones. (I mean, duh. Right?) Women being excluded from that stupid golf club in Georgia or wherever it was (Augusta something-or-other?) is totally different from excluding people clients could perceive as male from a rape crisis center. One cements privilege and the other protects against it.

    The fact that a person has renounced that privilege is good, but it has no automatic effect on people who are afraid of it. Trans people who have become women should be welcoming that experience. A big part of women’s lives is having other people make up their minds about you, regardless of what you think.

    • DSQL

      If I recall correctly, one of the reasons that Nixon was refused was because it was less than two years since Nixon’s experience of abuse. It is actually important (for both counsellor and victim) that sufficient time has passed, mainly because listening to a victim’s experience can be triggering to the new counsellor – not good for either party. Two years is a minimal figure, some victims take much longer to fully recover.

      If there’s any work that requires greater ability to listen and not to push, I can’t think of it. So insisting on being part of a group that doesn’t want her would seem to be a disqualification all by itself, regardless of gender or biology.

      Yes, there is that reason too.

      Biology actually can come into play with rape counselling. For female rape victims, obviously the trauma and breach of trust reasons, the worry of sexually transmitted diseases (which male victims can get too obviously), but the added unique factor, being female, is the fear of being impregnated from a rape, and having to deal with those consequences. No male-born victim, even if a surgically altered transwoman, ever has to face that.

      I knew a woman who was raped by a relative in her teens, she was impregnated by that and got an abortion even though she was against abortion. That internal conflict she carried with her until she died, for over 30 years.

      This is the reason why biological femaleness is important. Even an unwanted pregnancy from consensual PIV is something males just do not get.

      There are plenty of ways a male or a transwoman can help such organisations without being counsellors – fundraising, promotional events and back office jobs. These are just as critical in the overall scheme of things. In the case of transwomen, transwoman to transwoman counselling seems a far more appropriate role.

      • Q

        Why would trans women want to help an organization that occasionally refuses to counsel people like them, that treats them as not real women, that invalidates their gender identity?

  • Radfem

    Thank you Lee Lakeman and Meghan Murphy for this interview.And long live women-only spaces ! It’s crazy some people don’t get the standpoint of the subordinate class.

  • Hecuba

    Oh no can’t have women only safe spaces can we? Because that is discriminatory not only to biologically born males but also those men who claim to be really females in a male body. We can ignore fact the women and girls who seek expert help and support from Vancouver Rape Relief do not want biologically born males and/or men who claim to be females to be anywhere near them when these women are attempting to come to terms with male sexual violence committed against them.

    We biologically born females do not have that mythical ‘crystal ball’ which would enable us to immediately recognise and take action against any male of any age who is a sexual predator, instead we have to be constantly aware that males who sexually prey on females do not commonly walk around with a large sticker on their foreheads.

    If those men who claim to be females want to set up their own special safe places then why do they not do so instead of demanding entry into biologically born female spaces.

    Do non-white groups which are set up specifically to provide support/assistance to non-white women and men allow white males to enter their spaces because the white male claims ‘look I’m really non-white despite fact my skin tone is white?’ Of course not but we biologically born females are not allowed to have any safe spaces away from the 24/7 scrutiny of biologically born males and those males who claim to be really female. No we biologically born females must always be under the constant supervision/gaze of men. Why? Is it because when women only spaces are formed this allows the biologically born females to engage in discussion free from intrusive males dominating and re-interpreting what biologically born females are saying.

    We need women only spaces and particularly those spaces for female survivors of male violence because it is only when females (and I mean biologically born females who have experienced what it is like to be subjected to constant male oppression) come together do we begin to dismantle the lies Male Supremacy tells us about the supposed non-existence of male domination and male oppression of females.

    • Q

      “Do non-white groups which are set up specifically to provide support/assistance to non-white women and men allow white males to enter their spaces because the white male claims ‘look I’m really non-white despite fact my skin tone is white?”
      Uh yes, actually. They’re called white-reading people of color, and most groups for people of color do accept white-reading people of color.

      Also, trans women are not biologically born males, nor are they men pretending to be women. They experience hate crimes more often than cis women, they are often victims of rape. A lot of this comes from views like yours. Congratulations, you’re contributing to rape culture.

  • Hecuba

    This is what happens when we allow biologically born males into female spaces – because biologically born females have no way of knowing which biologically born male is a sexual predator and which one is not.


  • Hari

    Just recently I had an encounter with a m2f, showing her the house I rent since I’m moving. When I heard her name on the phone, I thought it might be a transwomyn–just a totally regular man’s voice. On meeting her, she was dressed and otherwise presented as a man, except for a more or less feminine hair style. No make-up, day-old beard stubble…really, to look at her one might only wonder why this man was wearing his hair in a kind of funny way (for a guy). Which is neither here nor there at all; I figured she was perhaps early in transitioning and that’s ok with me.

    I did end up asking her if she were in transition–going on to say that my landlady is a pretty mainstream, even redneck sort, and so she might want to use her given male name if that was still her legal name. Mentioned the possibility of discrimination–which she of course understood and seemed appreciative that I was trying to give her a heads up and had suggested ways to perhaps get past discrimination. Anyway, a good conversation, until she started talking about her graduate studies and ambitions. I forget her grad program, but her goal was to work at the local battered womyn’s shelter which also does rape-crisis work. Not that I said anything to her about it, but all I could think was that here is a MAAB who identifies as female but presents pretty totally as male, and hasn’t the foggiest notion (apparently) that looking like a man would be very likely to be upsetting to womyn seeking services. This shelter has very strict rules about men’s presence there in any form, and I can’t imagine admin being willing to let her work there.

    It was a strange moment for me…because on the one hand, whatever her appearance I was willing to acknowledge her sense of identity as a womyn, and talk with her person-to-person. On the other hand, I could only think “Only a man with a typical sense of entitlement would believe that a shelter for raped/battered womyn would hire him, or let him do any direct service for the womyn seeking services.” Identifying as a womyn is not enough in some particular situations.

    • Iasmē

      Identifying is not enough here. I lived at a women’s shelter for a number of weeks, a year ago, and there was a strict no-males policy – they were not allowed to enter the grounds of the area let alone the building. Now, I do hope nobody here has any inkling that desperately abusive males would -not- try to get in and harm somebody they abused, in there if they could – one does have to take into account that some people are crazy psychos who will exploit loopholes they could fit in, trying to pretend that it could never happen is allowing for harm. After being raped and abused, being in a safe women-only environment was crucial to my psychological stability at the time. I turned down an offer from a mixed shelter after going past there and watching the males creepily eye me and my friend. We did not want to risk stranger rape or having the car with our clothes and belongings in it stolen. I had already stayed in a motel in which the proprietor was excessively eager to spend time with me to ‘help’ me do things like park my car out of sight, alone – after being told by the charity which subsidised my stay there that the proprietor of the other motel in the area had repeatedly sexually assaulted and even raped women in danger who were sent there by the charity, I was terrified.

      In times of crisis, from my experience there is nothing as crucial as women-only space for women. Security must be air tight, the supportive environment that of women who have had the same oppressive material circumstance and life experiences under patriarchy, and duties of care cannot be allowed to be abused by patriarchal males.

    • Ryan

      In which reality do you imagine the desks of rape shelters are littered with post graduate applicants?
      maybe in Vancouver it isn’t such a problem; but only because there exists applicants that come from a well-to-do background that can subsist on wages that shelters can’t maintain, let alone improve.
      The other 2000km surrounding us have to make do with whoever shows up.
      The article outlines that Nixon is prevented from recieving training, training which possibly could be utilized elsewhere.
      Until such a time that there is sufficient resources for womyn only spaces coast to coast there might be reason for allowances to be made for those seeking to benefit from collective experience

    • Q

      They could have just asked the victims if they were comfortable with being counselled by a trans woman. I’m a rape victim, and I personally would be more comfortable with a trans woman, as the trans women I know are some of the kindest, most understanding people I know. Personally, I think it’s pretty ridiculous for someone to be scared of someone who is less privileged than them, but I understand your concern for the rape victims. However, this has such an easy fix – just ask the rape victims.

      • Melissa

        Oh yeah, b/c all rape victims collectively think the same. And they also haven’t experienced a life time of socialization telling them to put their own needs secondary to males and to “be nice” and “don’t make waves.”

        What crazy bizarro world do you live in where biological males are less privileged than female rape victims?

        One final point-I’d love to walk into a bank and claim that I’m a millionaire and that to have my identity respected I need to withdraw all the money in the vaults. That doesn’t mean that the tellers are going to do it (Thank you to the radfem poster I stole this line from on another blog!)

  • Maybe I’m stating the obvious and not to derail a great conversation, but there are many male psychotherapists and supportive counselors who practice in the area of sexual assault/rape. A large part of my practice is in working with children with a history of sexual abuse/molestation, in addition to young women who have been raped as well.
    This doesn’t take away from what all of you are saying about rape crisis centers which I agree need to be staffed predominately by women to create the atmosphere of comfort/safety needed for girls/women to initially talk about what happened. I was just picking up, probably falsely, on the idea that it is inherently harmful for men to be involved in the healing process at all. I’ve had many girls/women transferred to me specifically because of my background and where my “maleness” was able to promote healing as it gave an appropriate outlet for the person’s trauma and anger that needed to be expressed and could be in the safety of therapy. In the field of mental health, it’s become more known as another way to help survivors heal.
    If this is already common knowledge here, then forgive the assumption.

    • A therapeutic situation is somewhat time-limited, is a controlled environment, and there’s some level of expectation that one will feel wrung out. I don’t think anyone is making the point that men couldn’t be good rape or trauma crisis counselors in that context.

      However, a shelter, a place where women have come for safety after trauma, is a different environment. It’s a place to feel safe for women who are so traumatized they don’t know how to any more. That’s not therapy. That’s respite.

      Look at this from the woman’s point of view. It’s not about the man’s good intentions or skill as a therapist, both of which may be excellent. It’s not about whether her fear toward a particular man is justified. It’s about the woman not having to expend the emotional energy to conquer her fear.

    • Lysandra

      Hi Andrew,

      As both a licensed mental health counselor and someone who’s been a client of multiple therapists, I have a few responses to your comment, but I’ll have to come back tomorrow when I have more time. In the mean time though, I have to ask, why on earth is your name linking to a talk radio website filled with misogynist talk show hosts?

      • LOL! Good catch. Yeahhhh, I often dread being asked that question. Unfortunately, you can’t pick the hosts on the station you work with. I am often the lone voice representing. Hazard of the trade. Our call phrase for a while was “The filler after Miller, the sanity before Hannity.”

        I look forward to your thoughts.

        • Lysandra

          I was down in Palm Springs for a conference in March, and I think I might have heard a snippet of your show! I set it as one of the programmed stations in the rental car, and the next day when I was flipping through stations to find something to listen to I heard Sean Hannity or someone spouting off and was like, “what the heck?” lol!

          Anyway, mainly I just wanted to say that I think that men can sometimes be helpful to women who have suffered violence at the hands of men, but I think there are some pretty major concerns those male therapists need tob e aware of if they are going to work with female survivors of sexual trauma.

          One thing a male therapist must understand is that it at some level, they can never really understand as well as a female therapist can what it’s like to experience sexualized violence as a female, with the fears of pregnancy, higher risk of STI transmission, and the social context of female oppression in which that violence occurs.

          I have seen four therapists in the course of my life, three of which were women and one was a man. There was only one who I would actually consider to have been helpful for me, and it is the woman I’m currently working with. I went to the man deliberately because I had been told that it can be helpful for women who have experienced violence by men to work with a man, partially for the reasons you listed and partially for the fact that building trust with a male therapist can be helpful when a woman has lost all trust in men. However, I did not find it helpful. Michael was kind and empathic, and he never overtly tried to engage in victim-blaming. But at some level, he just couldn’t connect with what I was going through. He didn’t *get* that what I experienced was more than just a dysfunctional family dynamic—that in fact it was part of a social fabric that is *designed* to make sexualized violence against women the norm. He might not have engaged in overt victim-blaming, but by seeing the problem as *my* dysfunction (or even as my family’s dysfunction), he did engage in a more subtle form of victim-blaming that wasn’t helpful (for a great, nuanced discussion on the varieties of victim blaming, read Betty McLellan’s “Beyond Psychoppression”). I didn’t really understand why I didn’t feel we ever got anywhere in therapy until I began talking with and reading the work of feminist therapists.

          I don’t think my work with Michael actually did me any “extra” damage, but it was just a waste of money and time. It essentially just maintained a status quo, where I worked through some surface feelings about my family and the things that happened, but I didn’t get to delve deeper into my experience of being part of an oppressed sex class—he couldn’t create a space in which I could. In fact, as a male, a holder of male privilege, he had some vested interest in me (and all women) *not* realizing that. It wasn’t until I worked with a female therapist who got it, and began exposing myself to a feminist analysis of society broadly and psychotherapy specifically, that I began to really make progress personally.

          The other thing that a male therapist has to be mindful of is the power imbalance in the room. There’s already a power imbalance in a therapist-client dynamic, but the more social privilege the therapist has that the client doesn’t, the more pronounced this power imbalance becomes. Just as white therapists have to be aware of their privilege when working with a client of color, male therapists have to be aware of their male privilege in the counseling room. While I certainly could have terminated therapy with Michael earlier than I did (I stayed in for a year and a half or so despite feeling like it wasn’t helping), I believe Michael also fell short of his responsibility to be mindful of the power dynamic in the room, and to, you know, notice that I wasn’t making any *real* progress. Now, of course, the *vast* majority of counselors would disagree with me on that, but as a feminist therapist I believe it quite strongly.

          Now of course some female therapists won’t really understand that a woman’s experience of healing from sexual trauma is contextual and has just as much—if not more—to do with her being a member of an oppressed class than with the actual event of the violence. And perhaps there are male therapists who do (I haven’t met one yet though). And some female therapists are totally unaware of racial, age, or other forms of privilege that she has that her client doesn’t, and end up doing harm to her client as a result. But generally speaking, I’m going to refer female victims of sexualized violence to women. Just like I’d refer a person of color to a therapist of color when working through trauma resulting from a racist hate crime.

          And I certainly hope that my pro-feminist male colleagues can understand why.

          • ned

            Makes a lot of sense to me.

        • LOL! How hilarious that you work with a load of misogynists!! Whoopsie! Lolololol!!! Ohh, those crazy misogynists. How cute and funny. Lol!

          Or, you could get some damn integrity and work at another station, hmm? And stop acting like it’s a big joke?

          Also, one man’s ‘projection’ is another woman’s discovery of the truth. Fact is, all men benefit from patriarchy, and most DO act in damaging ways to women at some level, however subtle. That’s what patriarchy programs you to do, and it’s in your benefit to do. This ‘projection’ you speak of is more likely a recognition of that, and perhaps one that the woman in question is not happy with because it’s a horrible, but necessary, realization to have.

          But, nothing has been more useful, to me, although it has been unpleasant. Because once you face up to it, you can defend yourself from it. Convincing yourself that it’s ‘projection’ will leave you open to more abuse methinks. Certainly did for me (though, for my own self, I would not necessarily call it abuse, but yeah, the bad shit stopped once I accepted this fact).

    • Hari

      Andrew: “I was just picking up, probably falsely, on the idea that it is inherently harmful for men to be involved in the healing process at all. ”

      Not falsely, for my own part. As a survivor of childhood and adult sexual abuse, and a survivor of doemstic violence as well, I feel very strongly that womyn who’ve been victimized by men need to see womyn therapists at least to begin with. That said, I also strongly suggest that womyn interview a few therapists before going too deep into their stuff, to be sure it’s a good fit, not just based on the therapist’s sex (my own worst therapy experience was with a womyn–1 session was more than enough). You could be the exception–as a midwife, I’ve known a male midwife or 2 who were great, even though I consider midwifery a womyn’s profession for various important reasons–but on the whole, I don’t think men have any business offering services as a first line of help for abused womyn. Later, sure–after a womyn has already done some healing work and is generally steadier emotionally. I don’t care how great a therapist a man may be, nor how much personal integrity he may have–power and sex issues inherent for sexually abused or battered womyn are simply too extremely sensitive. And no therapist is so skilled, so self-realized or radically-feminized to be able to avoid the deep and hair-trigger issues for womyn OR themselves around our sex-role conditioning. It wouldn’t even necessarily be ‘your fault’ if a womyn responds to you out of her conditioning wrt men–it just can’t be helped.

      For womyn to fully heal and re-claim their power, womyn-only therapy spaces are vitally important. A man can never fully grasp what it means to be raised female in patriarchy. And womyn, ourselves, so deeply need to be able to unhook from our conditioning, to find safety when we don’t even know what the hell safety is, and to NOT have any of our power/sex buttons pushed (however invisibly and inadvertently) by entering such an intimate space with a man. They need also to see real womyn who’ve made it–womyn who can be role models, who by their very manner and behavior can teach injured womyn what it might mean to be whole and empowered as a womyn (at least, again, not in the early stages of healing). That’s not something any man can offer, period.

      And I’ll tell you this, too, as someone who’s had therapy on and off for some 40 yrs now–the more therapy I’ve had, the LESS I trust male therapists to be a good fit for me dealing with such specifically female issues. Not due to any fault or lack of the male therapist, but only because men simply can never in a million years really grasp what it means to be a womyn raised in, and surrounded every minute by, patriarchy. Like I said–womyn can be bad therapists for other womyn, if they are not sufficiently self-realized and radically feminized, not to mention sufficiently kind and humble (rather than over-full of their own importance and ‘skills’). But at least womyn can potentially understand what it means to be a womyn living in patriarchy.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Yep. I’ve had really terrible female therapists/counselors and a couple of good ones. I’ve also had a terrible male counselor. It isn’t as though women are necessarily feminist or radicalized, as you say, Hari. That said, I’m still not sure that I would trust that a man, raised in a man’s world, would be able to relate to my experiences and I can’t imagine wanting to talk with a man about abuse, particularly when I’m feeling vulnerable. Feminist female counselors are extremely important for women who’ve been abused or assaulted or, really, for any woman who’s had to live in this fucked up world.

  • I agree with everything you said. Especially about the recognition of the inherent power imbalance as a therapist, on top of which is the often unnamed, but obvious, societal imbalance between men and women in the therapeutic context. This is why I am a huge believer in naming these things early on in treatment. Overtly and clearly stating the obvious differences and what they might mean, even when (and sometimes because) the client may be reluctant to do so themselves. I don’t pretend to be expert at this and I find myself going back sometimes to bring this into the room if I failed to earlier.

    Much of my experience with these kind of referrals has been from female colleagues who have either helped the client to a particular point and want them (or rather the client articulates being ready to) work through anger towards the perpetrator or the projection onto men in general, or they need the experience of an intimate non-abusive connection with a man. The latter can be difficult as there is often a kind of “rebound effect” where the client experiences feelings of infatuation or seeing me as “the only good one.”
    Actually, there is a third type; when the abuse was female perpetrated. Then I’m dealing with a whole other set of nuances in unpacking what happened on the individual level while still being mindful of the male-female dynamic in the room.

    I really liked what you wrote about that, as a male, I have a vested interest in not seeing or not working with the socialized oppression of women. It’s an area I do my best to challenge myself on and it is an important reminder that I can not lose sight of this or risk unintentionally harming or, at best, not helping my clients to move forward.

    One piece you wrote that I will challenge somewhat is the idea of inability to identify with a female client who was experienced female-specific harms. This may be an aspect of my own denial/arrogance, but I carry that idea into every therapeutic relationship. I cannot ever truly know the experience of who is sitting in front of me until they share it, and they will not share it if they see me as someone who “already knows it.” I actually talk about this in training regarding those clients who seem more like us than different from us. I can expand on this, if you want.

    And thanks for stumbling across the show! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the “you’re on the air with WHO?” conversation. I’ve had several guests refuse to come on before getting to know me as they took me for a conservative “Dr. Laura” style show. I will share with some glee that one of my favorite moments was realizing I was really really talking to Jaclyn Friedman on the show. Also Meghan…maybe you’ve heard of her, but I don’t want to name drop…

    • DSQL

      (or rather the client articulates being ready to) work through anger towards the perpetrator or the projection onto men in general, or they need the experience of an intimate non-abusive connection with a man.

      Working through anger is one thing, but this projection onto men in general – why does it need curing?

      It relies on the assumption that ‘most men are good, and only a few bad apples out there giving men a bad name’. Feminist studies such as Professor Diana Russell’s study of college men showed that 60% would ‘force sex’ (ie rape, but the word was not used) a woman if they thought there would be no consequences. That study was done many years ago before the mainstreaming porn had reached its current levels, and if the same study was done today, I would think that 60% was even higher now.

      That really does not give me confidence in the ‘few bad apples’ theory, and points to most of the bushel being bad.

      The reality is that there are actually a few good men out there, but the majority of the rest are vested in male domination, and uphold the status quo, even in very subtle ways.

      Add to that, most females are raped by males they know, and separatism makes a lot of sense.

      So the ‘few bad apples’ is yet another patriarchical reversal that females are led to believe, when really, there are only a few good apples out there.

      • Hari

        DSQL–“Working through anger is one thing, but this projection onto men in general – why does it need curing?”

        Yes, this. A huge part of my healing and empowerment has come about through realizing my own necessary ferocity in self-protection. It didn’t rise up in me until I was in an overtly abusive relationship 15yrs ago when I was 40–but during the time of freeing myself from that man and healing, I’ve come to realize that I’ve taken a LOT of abuse at ‘lower levels’ from men all my life. That it’s just no good at all to think that ‘most men are kind and good, and only a few are abusers/rapists’–because this is simply untrue in patriarchy! In patriarchy, men are deeply conditioned to dominate, and womyn to submit…hell, some of the most admirable, empowered womyn I know STILL cannot imagine life without femininity-compliance in their mode of dressing. That is submission to the will of men/patriarchy that womyn must present as fuckable (i.e., vulnerable) and otherwise compliant to men. On the other hand, I’ve not worn make-up or heels, or shaved or worn any uncomfortable clothing (even if still feminine-presenting otherwise, often enough) since I was in my teens! Yet I was 40+ before I fully understood the power-dynamics of the patriarchy and how much I was allowing men to dominate me in personal relationships–just in much less overt ways than the abuser tried to.

        I won’t say I walk around angry at all men, at all times anymore. But I definitely walk around with my ferocity/anger just as accessible as my kindness, nurturing, or any other feeling and behavior. My worst therapy experience happened to be with a womyn, who tried to tell me during our very first meeting that I needed to work on my anger. Thing is, she’d seen the results of the mini-psych eval the center used for intake purposes…I read the report after walking out on her. I had to laugh–here my report said I was angry and generally distrustful and would be hard to counsel, and it also clearly stated that I was suffering from traumatic stress due to abuse (I’d only just gotten through legal proceedings at the time)…and I’d told that counselor, “I needed my anger to survive an untenable situation, it got me out of there and it kept me from killing myself because it helped me remember that *I* was not to blame for *his* behavior. I’m ready to work–but anger literally saved my life and my kids’ lives, and I’m not about to ‘cure myself’ of my anger. I only just realized how necessary it is!” Oh, I was just NOT a good little victim in her eyes, not properly wrecked *enough*, not properly submissive to her authority…gah.

        Womyn raised in patriarchy are slowly and persistently forced to repress their natural instincts and capacities for self-protection. Our needful ferocity is drummed out of us, because that is the only way to render us fuckable, vulnerable, domitable. The Real Cure for womyn is helping them reclaim their instincts and their ferocity–NOT curing them of it! Because we do live in a culture where men are raised to take from and to dominate womyn–not all men are rapists, but every one is raised to take and dominate, even if many learn to exercise their privilege in kinder/gentler non-violent ways. And that is something we DO need to know how to identify and resist–which takes anger and ferocity.

  • And for the record, I want to be clear I don’t think I’m some sort of “magic” therapist in this regard. I’ve had clients that I realized I could not help and referred back or re-referred to a female therapist for some of the reasons you mentioned.

    It also sounds like, in your case, in addition to Michael not being where you needed him to be, you were ready for a level of feminist-specific reflection that was beyond his ability. While I would love to someday have a client who wanted to have that kind of discussion and self-focus, I would probably refer her to a female feminist therapist for the same reason.

  • FCM

    as an fyi, andrew pari is bff with hugo schwyzer. as i recall, he attempted to solicit HUB bloggers for an on-air “debate” about slutwalk, and the appropriateness of hugos involvement in it, which andrew supported.

  • FCM

    ah yes, heres what i was looking for.

    Name: Andrew Pari
    Email: andrew@andrewpari.com
    Website: http://www.newstalk1380.com
    Message: Dear FCM,

    Chasing the Why, the call-in social issues radio program in L.A., is doing its next show on Slutwalk.
    We’ll be including various viewpoints on this and would be interested in your thoughts or participation as one voice in the feminist continuum.

    If interested, you can reach us at the above email.
    The program will air this Monday, 5/30, from 11am-Noon, live in-studio. You can join by phone, or in person if you’re in the So Cal area.
    If you’d rather send input in writing, we can have the host include your comments during the show.

    Thank you for your time!

    Name: Chasing the Why

    Email: andrew@andrewpari.com

    Website: http://www.newstalk1380.com

    Message: We had sent a comment the other day which wasn’t posted. We realize in retrospect that you may not have published our comment because the host of the show is male. The producer of the show is female as are other staffers involved. Our attempts to outreach to those critical of SlutWalk were ignored. For those wishing to have more public opportunities to air their views as has been said many times in radfem circles, it would seem to have been an opportunity to do so.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I was a guest on Chasing the Why last year. Hugo was the other guest. I think it’s nice that Andrew tried to get your perspective(s) on air, no?

      • FCM

        please tell me your response is a joke. i might actually try to believe you.

        uh, NO, actually it wasnt nice at all, it was an act of attempted sabotage that the HUB bloggers deliberately and smartly side stepped. AS IF someone like andrew would or even could ever fairly represent the radical feminist position in that or any male-centric forum. it was a set up.

        AND that wasnt even the point of my comment! my point was to inform your readers, some of whom are “new” here, that andrew is creepy sex pozzer who supports hugo, and refers to women as sluts, counseling rape victims and bragging about it on a feminist blog, and you are letting him i cant even. i really cant.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ok. Well, I didn’t feel set up going on the show to talk about porn but I can’t speak to Andrew’s intentions…

          • ned

            That e-mail is pretty harmless, regardless of one’s views of Andrew or Hugo’s political opinions.

        • Melissa

          I know this is a late response, but it’s kinda rude that you’re coming to MEGHAN’S BLOG and responding to her that way…

    • Xiao Mao

      Well. THAT is quite enlightening. Thanks for the heads up, FCM.

      • FCM

        he also cant take NO for an answer, which is evinced by his SECOND email after the first was deliberately ignored. AS IF our message of “no thanks” was in any way unclear. it wasnt unclear, but he just had to take a second bite at the apple, and then act as if we were ungrateful, confused, confusing (and wrong!) not to have taken him up on his generous offer to let us serve his interests. gee, where have i heard that one before?

  • Sargasso Sea, LDBS

    Andrew –

    Why on earth would you feel it necessary to weigh in with your concern troll tone on a thread in which (born) women are stating in no uncertain terms that the mere presence of a (born) male, let alone a male in role of counselor/therapist, at a rape crisis center or other women’s safe space is NOT ACCEPTABLE?

    “[…]they need the experience of an intimate non-abusive connection with a man. The latter can be difficult as there is often a kind of “rebound effect” where the client experiences feelings of infatuation or seeing me as ‘the only good one’.”

    That little gem sent a shiver up my spine. The LAST thing a female who has been raped *needs* is intimate counseling with a male.

    But right, Meghan thinks you’re “nice” so ‘splain away. Tell us all about it Andrew.

    • Melissa

      Like I said in a comment above, why do you think it’s ok to come into another woman’s space and talk about her in that way? I agree with everything else you wrote, I just don’t get the hostility directed towards Meghan…

  • Hello everyone – this is the Producer of the Chasing The Why show. I’m a female and I’m a little saddened by your take on the character of our show.

    Andrew and I have always tried very very hard to make sure that all points of view were reflected on the air. I don’t understand the anger you seem to be displaying over the fact that your group was invited to discuss your view on the topic of feminism and SlutWalk. I’m sorry if you felt “set up”, that was certainly not the intention. We sent an email, got no reply, posted a second request on the blog and still received no reply. If you did reply with a “no thanks” we, unfortunately, didn’t receive it. Although, contacting you only 2 times to see if you would be interested in participating in the discussion is hardly an evil plot to set you up. There were a lot of social issues that we tackled on the show and this was just one of many.

    I do agree, “someone like andrew would or even could ever fairly represent the radical feminist position”. Andrew’s not a radical feminist, nor am I. Which is precisely why we asked your group to come on, or send a statement so that your point of view could be correctly represented. We did a lot of research and contacted many different groups and people to try to get a well rounded show together. I’m really a little stunned that you felt it was a set up. If you ever listened to our show you would know that we NEVER have set anyone up or tried in any way to “attack” anyone on air. Our whole goal was to present accurate information in a fair and unbiased way so the listeners can make up their own minds. Some of the views and ideals that your group has are extremely interesting and we felt they needed to be shared so that the conversation wasn’t just one sided. It’s a little frustrating that you never even gave us a chance and are now (almost a year later no less) saying that the show tried to set you up. Have you ever even listened to CTW? And if so, do you honestly feel that we ambush people on air?

    Thank you for allowing me to chime in here. Attack on my character may proceed in 3…2…

  • patriarchywatch

    I am completely disinterested in Andrew the mansplainer, his radio show and everything else about him.

    I want to talk about the article, the points made, and the importance of woman-only space.

    I repeat, the importance of woman-only space.

    I repeat again, the importance of woman-only space.

    You know, space where women can talk to one another freely and openly without having their conversations derailed by men & therefore having the focus inevitably moved back to Teh Menz.

    In other words, piss off Andrew! Have some respect and let women speak to each other. Go away.

  • Sargasso Sea, LDBS

    “Attack on my character may proceed in 3…2…”

    So it seems you have some preconceived notions about radical feminists then?

    And anyway, the emails were *from* Andrew (not a Producer) whom some some of us are rather familiar with and whose motives we have good reason not to trust.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I really believe Andrew’s motives are honest. I’ve known him (online) for some time now. I do believe (based on the email posted here and based on the interview he did with me) that he sincerely was just looking to include a radical feminist perspective on the show he contacted you about.

  • Zana

    I just got sexually harassed by a man in a park. I can tell you right now the last person I want to see is a male, whether in a dress, or in makeup. Tough Horse cookies if transfolk can’t handle that.

    It’s just like if a trans MtF had SRS and wanted to be around others who had the SRS then it’s totally understandable. This is the point of special groups, which is what this entire thing is about.

    We have classifications and groups that we identify with and when in crisis it’s important we do what it takes for comfort and healing. If that means certain groups only want to be amongst themselves then that’s what it means.

    Sorry, I just don’t want to beat around the bush. I just like to say it clearly and cleanly.

    • Q

      Trans women are not “males in dresses.” They’re women. Maybe you need to deal with your transmisogyny instead of projecting on trans women, who have as little connection to men as you do.

      • Melissa

        You can say transwomen are women as much as you want, but that doesn’t make it true.

  • Kitten

    Kind of getting bored of this view that woman are taking. That some how a Trans gender woman is has no experience of growing up being a girl. Image having grow up in wrong body watching yourself grow into wrong place. Saying that trans people don’t have experience in bonding without woman because of there childhood just stinks of prejudiced. I was raped and was council-ed by trans person they helped me greatly and made feel very safe. Some how saying that there not able to help me just stinks. Saying is this person in Drag or not real? does that not say more about person judging them. Strange how its ok for Trans person to help fund and support the center but not be able council someone. It strikes of the civil rights movement of the 60’s this person i not a real woman because she is black. Same thing! I wonder what happens if person who raped is racist and refused to be helped by a black councilor? what would center do then?

    • scaldingmay

      This comment has to be a joke. No one in their right mind can really believe this, right?

  • anne cameron

    I supported Rape Relief at the time and I still support Rape Relief in this on-going go-round. There is nothing “wrong” or “shameful” in being “Trans”. So why not claim that label, that identity. “Hi, I’m Sylvia and I’m Trans”…rather than “Hi, I’m Sylvia and I’m a woman.”. Because Trans just do not have the life experience of women. Trans were not born infant girls, they did not grow up pressured by the male dominant culture, and it takes more than surgery and hormones to be a woman. I’m more than willing to support their personal decisions, I’ll support their struggle for acceptance, I’ll support them in fighting for housing, employment, in virtually all other struggles they encounter but I will not support their claim to be women. I’ve been verbally assaulted for my belief, I’ve been insulted, I’ve been threatened with physical harm (and how male is THAT?!), but I’m nearly 80 years old and I’m not afraid to state my belief. Rape Relief was correct, and they worked to protect the women needing their services. A woman who has been violated does not need a man to counsel her, however kind and gentle he may be. A woman whose daughter has been cruelly abused does not need a man to help in any way. Their very presence can open a can of snakes and worms and undo any progress she may have made. Rape Relief has , from the inception, worked on behalf of women.
    I guess it’s small-minded of me to feel that it wasn’t until Rape Relief was an obvious success that this other B.S. problem presented itself. The hardest work was done and then… oh, looky, momma, here they come…
    If they truly want to help, let them start their own group and counsel the men who may not themselves be rapists or abusers but who stand cowed and silent when the crappy jokes get told or the locker-room bragging begins.
    God knows there are still mountains to climb! We don’t need them riding on our coat tails as we struggle ever upward.
    Good on ya, Lee! Good on all the Rape Relief supporters. Thank God you’re there!