Somehow, it has been 10 years.
On July 1, 2012, I launched Feminist Current, with the help of my friend, Ernesto Aguilar, who worked tirelessly to get the site up and running — an endeavour that would have otherwise been impossible for me, without either the knowledge or the means to build a functional website. At the time, I was completing a master’s degree in Women’s Studies (renamed “Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies” in the grand gendering of women that happened around 2010) at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and a master’s degree in Journalism at the University of British Columbia (which I abandoned in its final hours, for lack of time and money) and related internship, as well as working several jobs.
Clearly, I had nothing better to do but launch my own podcast and website. I’m joking, of course. Though I can’t imagine where my life would have gone without it. Feminist Current came to fruition out of necessity — out of something toxic that became something powerful.
Prior to launching my own site, I had gone through a decent amount of turmoil, albeit incredibly useful turmoil, in retrospect.
I had quit my dead-end office job working for the Canadian government (imagine if I had tried to keep that job, as my parents pushed me to do hahaha — I’d be in jail by now for sure), that paid me barely enough to make rent and bus fare; had an affair with a married man who I met at work; left him, on account of determining he was still married and intended to stay that way; went to film school on a tiny Gulf Island; moved to an even tinier Gulf Island to live in a tent and work at the local cafe; moved into a trailer; got pregnant; scheduled an abortion but miscarried ahead of my appointment (which I believe I willed); fell into a relationship with the abusive man who impregnated me who had cared for me during and after my miscarriage out of necessity (I had no money, house, or driver’s licence), which became a kind of trauma-bonding thing that lasted a year, during which I started a feminist radio show featuring underground hip hop interludes on the local pirate radio station, located in the middle of a sheep field, which I crossed in the pitch dark, looking out for cougars and wearing steel toed rubber boots, lest a ram attempted to ram me, and I was required to kick it in the head.
If one takes my life as evidence, Saturn returns is inarguably real.
I wanted to go back to school, having dabbled in a few night classes at college during my early 20s, not really able to move towards a degree with a full time job and horrible grades, so began commuting via ferry and highway, from my small island town to Malaspina College on the big island, as we called it, (which became Vancouver Island College in 2008). I took some creative writing courses (one, fortuitously, with the Canadian poet, Kate Braid, who was an incredible writing teacher), some media studies courses, some history and women’s studies courses. Slowly, I managed to build up my credits and GPA until I was able to leave my abusive relationship and the tiny, suffocating island where I’d been unable to escape either this man or the community consequences of having discussed his behaviour publicly, and transfer to SFU in Vancouver, beginning my career as the most hated feminist in feminism.
In 2009, I was 29, and back in Vancouver and wanting to continue doing feminist radio. I linked up with a local feminist collective, who were producing a weekly show called The F Word (demonstrating my lack of originality in having coincidentally named my weird rap + feminism late night pirate radio show the very same thing) out of Vancouver Co-op Radio.
It wasn’t long before I began taking on controversial topics, both on air and on the collective’s blog.
I looked at what passed for modern feminism and saw repackaged porn culture and nonsense. Young feminists had almost wholeheartedly rejected their first and second wave sisters, treating the women’s movement that had paved the way for the rights and freedoms we enjoyed today as though it were old-fashioned and uncool. Modern feminism embraced objectification, reframing it as a choice, and — here’s the kicker: because women were choosing their own objectification, choosing to participate in porn, get naked on stage in burlesque shows, or to sell sex — these practices were no longer challengeable. Everything was an empowering act — “feminist” even — because women were choosing.
And indeed, I support a woman’s right to choose anything she likes. Freedom, baby. But the problem was that everything was decontextualized, and the truth about women’s choices was erased — it’s like women were being given analytical lobotomies: don’t think about how women end up in prostitution and who’s buying them, don’t think about why young women might post porny photos on the internet, don’t ask why stripping is “empowering” for rich wannabe hipsters but degrading for the working class woman stuck in a dark, dirty strip club on the side of the highway.
Things that had long been understood to exist on account of women’s lack of choices and status as sexy objects, to-be-fucked, to-be-bought-and-sold — her degradation turned into a man’s jack off material — was reframed as the new feminism.
I criticized things like SlutWalk, a phenomenon originating in Toronto that confronted victim-blaming with throngs of 20-somethings marching down the street in their underwear with the word “Slut” emblazoned across their chests. I criticized the concept of “sex positivity,” which apparently meant embracing pornography and BDSM uncritically, and refusing to name prostitution as, you know, a bad thing for women, because somehow in modern times that equated to “shaming” women. I criticized the burlesque trend, wherein insecure women could recover from their high school unpopularity by getting naked on stage to guaranteed cheers, but call it art, not stripping. I criticized drag, pole dancing, Playboy, and Emily Ratajkowski.
God I loved criticizing things! But everything had gotten so twisted around — it was as though we were living in some kind of feminist bizarro land. Little did I know, things were going to get much, much worse.
Just before the mass silencing of feminists who did not agree that men were women began, the marginalization and trashing of women who criticized prostitution was taking place, and I was almost immediately branded “whorephobic,” not for fearing so-called “whores,” but for insisting that prostitution was not good for women, and that the vast majority of women and girls in the sex trade were there for lack of choice. If I was “phobic” of anyone, it was of johns, who struck me as the most inhumane, abusive, selfish people on earth — the kind of men who would head down to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and pick up a drug-addicted homeless woman who had likely been sexually abused since the time she was a child, and pay her $20 for a blow job, knowing she would never say no. Any man who thought about it for half a minute would have to acknowledge that no healthy, truly empowered woman would choose to have sex with strange men who don’t know, care about, or respect her, in exchange for cash. Johns were the kind of men who didn’t want to be accountable for their sexual treatment or abuse of women. Yet modern feminists were defending these men, under the guise of defending the women they bought. And labelling those, like me, who stated the obvious, as not only “whorephobic,” but anti-feminist.
If they had called me a man-hater, it would have made more sense. To criticize sexist practices and be called a woman-hater for doing so was a strange trip. I felt like I was losing my mind, and thought for sure everyone else had.
One might have thought being derided and smeared by almost the entire feminist internet and most progressives in Canada would be bad. But the Western world’s embrace of trans activism and the 1984-style re-writing of reality was yet to come.
In 2012, The F Word collective took on debates surrounding burlesque, prostitution, and sexy Halloween costumes, but was apparently not robust enough to address the controversy surrounding transgenderism, which, at that time, was really only taking place within radical feminism. At that time, few had taken on the question of whether or not a man could become a woman and what the repercussions of that might be for women outside of radical feminism. If anyone outside these circles had taken on this issue, there was certainly no debate raging around it, as there was within feminism.
Women like Sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond, Lierre Keith, and Lee Lakeman were among those who fought back, early on, against men’s insistence they were women and should have access to women’s space as such, and were punished harshly for doing so. Even Gloria Steinem, in 1977, wrote about James Humphrey Morris, a British army officer who transitioned to become Jan Morris, and the transition of tennis player Richard Raskind to Renée Richards, writing:
“Feminists are right to feel uncomfortable about the need for and the uses of transsexualism. Even while we protect the right of an informed individual to make that decision, and to be identified as he or she wishes, we have to make clear that this is not a long-term feminist goal. The point is to transform society so that a female can ‘go out for basketball’ and a male doesn’t have to be ‘the strong one.’ Better to turn anger outward toward changing the world than inward toward mutilating our bodies into conformity.
In the meantime, we shouldn’t be surprised at the amount of publicity and commercial exploitation conferred on a handful of transsexuals. Sex-role traditionalists know a political tribute when they see one.
But the question remains: If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”
Steinem since retracted her very reasonable statements as gender identity ideology became doctrine.
In 2012, the Butlerin notion of “gender” and the notion that no one could possibly know what a woman was (they’re all so different!) was going mainstream, and we were no longer talking about just a few men calling themselves “transsexual,” but about the idea that simply saying you were a woman meant you must be accepted in women’s spaces, unchallenged. Mainstream, third wave feminists were on board with this. It was only the most stubborn of radical feminists who said “no,” and even then, many from within that contingent were too scared to speak out.
It was because I saw how the women around me, who I respected, looked up to, and had learned so much from, were being treated, that I took on this debate. At the time, I didn’t feel particularly impassioned about the issue of transgenderism, but I did feel impassioned about protecting women and standing up against bullying and silencing. Watching women who had spent their lives working for women be harassed, threatened, ostracized, verbally abused, and kicked out of their communities, political parties, and activist groups was unacceptable to me. Watching young men and women who had contributed nothing to the world and certainly done nothing to fight violence against women attempt to destroy all women had built over decades was unacceptable to me. Women who were doing good were being silenced, accused of the very thing they were being subjected to: erasure, bullying, bigotry, even violence.
This is why I started Feminist Current 10 years ago — to create a space where I could speak freely, and where I could highlight women’s voices that were not being heard anywhere else. A space for women, by women, where we would not be silenced for failing to toe the line. Where we could tell the truth, and counter the biased and often libelous narratives coming from activists and the media. And this is why I have maintained it ever since.
In 2012, the year I launced Feminist Current, I had proposed The F Word collective take on the trans debate on the radio show. I interviewed Sheila Jeffreys and Lee Lakeman about their views on trans ideology and women-only spaces, and one of my fellow collective members interviewed trans academic Susan Stryker and trans activist Barb Besherat, for counter views. The show we produced, “Facing our fears: transgenderism vs radical feminism,” was removed by that same collective member, who decided she didn’t want any part of the controversy, even if she had chosen the good girl end of the debate, the archives disappeared forever, apart from my own records of my own interviews. My efforts to simply allow the debate to happen — controversy, criticism and all — led to me being unceremoniously locked out of all accounts and ousted from the collective.
The trans wars truly had begun, and so did Feminist Current.
At that time, in 2012, there were few places for women like me to publish my ideas. There was plenty of room for Jezebelian celebrations of empowered “sex workers” and leftist defences of legalized prostitution. Personal essays about how BDSM cured women of their rape trauma and how sexy selfies were a form of “self-expression” wherein young women could show the world their true selves (laughable, considering the practiced posing and air brushing that goes into these curations), not a means for insecure young women to seek temporary, superficial validation from strange men. Academia — Gender Studies, in particular — had gone whole hog on the “gender is fluid/what is a woman anyway” discourse. Janet Mock came out as a “transwoman” in Marie Claire, Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl, pubished an article about “trans feminism” at Ms Magazine, and TIME published, “The Transgender Tipping Point,” featuring Laverne Cox and the notion that one could have a different “gender identity” than their sex, and a person’s “gender” could be “assigned as male at birth” but in reality this person is a woman.
The conversation had gone mainstream, though things didn’t really get messy until 2015, which, it seems, is when every institution and activist group succumbed to the masculine grip of trans psychopathy.
Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn, MichFest — the long-standing woman-only, lesbian-centric festival famously (for those paying attention) embroiled in a debate about whether or not “transwomen” should be allowed on the land — ended after 40 years, Laverne Cox posed nude on the cover of Allure, Germaine Greer said that transwomen are men, not just once, but a number of times over, which led to mass calls to deplatform her. Specifically, Greer said she didn’t “believe a woman is a man without a cock,” and that, “Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a fucking woman,” digging in her heels when pressed: “You can beat me over the head with a baseball bat. It still won’t make me change my mind.”
Radical feminists had been attempting to discuss the fact that transwomen are men for a few years at that point, but had mostly been ignored. Now, they were not being ignored, but instead were being persecuted.
Lesbian feminist journalist Julie Bindel was deplatformed over and over again for writing critically, in 2004, about the Kimberley Nixon case, wherein Nixon, “a male to female transsexual,” attempted to train as a counsellor at Vancouver Rape Relief, a transition house and rape crisis centre for women. Nixon filed a human rights complaint against Vancouver Rape Relief, but lost his case at the Supreme Court. Bindel concluded her article, saying, “I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man.”
Also in 2015, a petition was launched by Maggie’s Toronto — a sex work lobby group — demanding I be removed as an editor and a writer at rabble.ca, a left-wing Canadian news site I was employed at then. The authors of the petition accused me of “racism, transmisogyny, and whorephobia” on account of my work at Feminist Current. I wasn’t fired, as the accusations were found to be baseless at the time (now, of course, I am a full-blown everythingphobe!), just ostracized and smeared across Canada, leading to every event I have spoken at since being met by threats and protests.
This site has been attacked numerous times by hackers, targeted with DDOS attacks, our Twitter handle remains stolen by a misogynist weirdo who also doxxed me (which Twitter refuses to resolve), and many women, over the years, who published at Feminist Current have requested their work be removed, fearful their association with people who believe that men are not women will ruin them.
Anyone associated with those of us tarred as “transphobic” were guilty by association, and ousted from feminism and the left. Women’s jobs have been threatened simply for liking our posts on Facebook.
Over the past decade, I have published hundreds upon hundreds of articles on this site, by myself and numerous other women. I have produced and hosted hundreds of podcasts as well, interviewing women from around the world — academics, activists, writers, researchers, artists, journalists, lawyers, and more. Not just about the fight for women’s sex-based rights, but about child marriage, surrogacy, grooming gangs, the women’s health movement, domestic violence, hormone health, the guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, sexual assault, coercive control, trafficking, the porn industry, and more. So much more.
I cannot even begin to list the full breadth of topics we have covered, the women I have spoken with, and all that I have learned in doing this work. Feminist Current became practically a full time job many years ago, and having since expanded into doing more freelance writing, creating a new YouTube show and podcast, starting my own Substack, and working on a book, it now feels as though I have about three full time jobs.
I’m not complaining. It has truly been a gift. I have evolved personally, politically, and emotionally over the years. I have evolved as a writer and thinker. I would be nowhere without all that I have learned running Feminist Current for the past decade, and without having to fight so hard just to keep going. I am no longer able to produce as much here as I once was, but what we have produced over the years is truly incredible: possibly the largest archive of feminist interviews in existence — certainly the site that has fought hardest to support women’s sex-based rights and the women fighting for those rights . I am so proud to have provided a platform for so many women, and to have been able to highlight their work and voices. I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed here, who has been brave enough to speak out, and who I have learned so much from. I am beyond grateful — more than I can ever describe — for all the support our readers and listeners have given us over the years. For all the women, around the world, who have supported and contributed to Feminist Current over the years.
This site has been evidence of a women’s movement. For actual women.
The fight continues, and so does our work here at Feminist Current.