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Notes on Feminism and the Culture Wars
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Notes on Feminism and the Culture Wars

Author: Bess

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Notes and interviews about feminism, sex, gender, history, power, and radical Christian conservatism in politics. Hosted by Elizabeth Hungerford.
8 Episodes
Katherine Acosta, sociologist and feminist writer, and Max Dashu, lesbian feminist historian,  join Bess to discuss the Department of Education's (DOE) proposed changes to the Title IX regulation allowing sex-segregated sports teams. You may submit a public comment on the proposed changes until May 15, 2023.The Department recognizes that prevention of sports-related injury is an important educational objective in recipients' athletic programs and that—as courts have long recognized in cases involving  sex-separate athletic teams—fairness in competition may be particularly important for recipients in some sports, grade and education levels, and levels of competition. citationDOE's directed questionsThe DOE also asks if the proposed regulation is clear enough?An example of feminist arguments for comment is published here on Katherine's blog:Female athletes may be harmed when gender identity is the overriding criteria and recipients must minimize harm to female athletes.To minimize the foreseeable harms of inevitable litigation, the Department should specify which forms of proof or evidence recipients may require. Finally, the Department should recommend that recipients may [designate] one category as “open” with no sex-related proof of eligibility requirements and also maintain[] a second “female” category with sex-related female proof of eligibility other than gender identity.Reference links and estimated time stamps~10:35 Males have larger hearts than females; males have 10-12% greater lung capacity~14:20 Sports participants achieve leadership roles~14:50 Hannah Arensman retires after losing to two male racers~17:05 Comparing male versus female athletic results~25:50 Iszac Henig, female swimmer on male team~26:40 Biden's Executive Order 13988~34:40 Republicans are ready for litigation!~40:10 Pre-pubertal children may also experience sex differences in physical capacity
Bess summarizes Nancy Whittier's analytic framework for understanding the difference between coalition (ideological congruence) and collaborative adversarial relationships, using anti-pornography feminists and Catharine MacKinnon's novel civil legislation as an example. Spoiler: MacKinnon and anti-pornography feminists were not in coalition with anti-pornography conservatives and remained in active opposition to anti-pornography conservatives' legal goals & morality-based understandings of the harms of pornography. Feminists were known to say: Sex is not obscene! Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier. See also Whittier's longer work (yes, a book) Frenemies: Feminists, Conservatives, and Sexual Violence (2018).REFERENCES (see also previous show notes)Natasha Chart and Penny Nance co-author a letter published by conservative newspaper, The Federalist.WoLF's submission to the U.N. Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity, w/advice from United Families International.Kara Dansky, formerly of WoLF and current leader of WDI USA, has been working w/conservatives since at least 2016.On the ground, Kara Dansky and conservative Natassia Grover in Loudon County at school committee hearings.Texas undertakes child abuse investigations of parents of transgender children.Texas attorney general investigating pharmaceutical companies who offer puberty blockers.Women's Sports Policy Working Group and Nancy Hogshead-Makar (no, my apologies, I did not pronounce her last name correctly).WoLF's testimony against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.Natasha Chart testifying on behalf of WoLF in favor of South Dakota legislation to prohibit pediatric transition (paywall).Review of "educational gag orders" filed in 2021.Finally, Christopher Rufo is definitely not a feminist, nor a friend.recorded 5/31/2022
In less than 25 minutes, Bess finally talks about her feminist principles and the purpose of the podcast: differentiating feminist analysis from old fashioned conservatism. Using the example of a popular conservative framework that describes people who adopt a transgender identity as "mentally ill," Bess explains how this understanding of transgender people and their identities is in conflict with at least three basic feminist principles:Structural social critique (anti-individualism)Anti-authoritarianismAnti-essentialismFeminist analysis: A Feminist Critique of Cisgender, one of Bess's favorite feminist (but not radical feminist!) essays about anti-(gender) essentialism, first published on June 8, 2012.Conservative analysis: Alliance Defending Freedom, radical Christian nationalists who provide support to self-identified feminist organizations to spread moral panic about transgender people, are protecting "God's creative order" with "Generational Wins!" Learn more!Gay marriage was first recognized in Massachusetts in 2004 via a beautifully written judicial decision: Goodridge v. The Dept of Public Health. We've come a long way, but it was not long ago that lesbian legal rights were just a fantasy.Next time! No, really! Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier
Kathy Acosta asks who sets the political agenda and why right wing Christian nationalists are interested in making alliances with small feminist organizations.
PART ONE of this conversation, including notes and more links!In this second part of Shani and Kathy's conversation, I ask them about the role of criticism and disagreement in a political movements. Shani talks about what infighting means, loyalty, secrets, and interpersonal empathy with women who are being abused by trans rights activists. Kathy references Susan Faludi's classic feminist book Backlash and discusses the power disparities between Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Women's Liberation Front (WoLF). They also discuss anti-intellectualism, pseudo-populism, the complicated history of women's rights in the US, and building a support base of conservative (rather than feminist) women.WoLF's statement on work with anti-abortion fundraiser Zachary Freeman.Alliance Defending Freedom's description of "Generations Wins"  in five key areas:Protecting LifeReligious FreedomMarriage and Family: "Ensuring the law respects God’s creative order for marriage, the family, and human sexuality."Free SpeechParental RightsThe complicated history of Mississippi's property laws, the first state to guarantee married women's inherited property rights. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, in part because white men felt outnumbered by black and Chinese men. Next time! Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier
Katherine M Acosta blogs at Cassandra Speaks/She's Right You Know. Women's Liberation Front ("WoLF") staff and board; wikipedia entry.Feminists in Struggle ("FiST") website about us page,  with first blog entries posted in March 2019, including support for the Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights.Women's Declaration International (WDI), formerly the Women's Humans Rights Campaign USA, website, board of directors, and international site.Feminist identified organizations working together, examplesAnn Menasche, founder of FiST, and Kara Dansky, former board member of WoLF (current board member of WDI USA), interviewed in April 2019 on Women's Liberation Radio Network.WoLF and WHRC share political messaging in June 2021, directed at the Loudoun County school board.FiST event about academic freedom in late January 2022, WoLF board member, Dr. Devin Jane Buckley, was a featured speaker.WHRC USA's work with conservativesLegislative Advocacy team and the Title IX coalition. WoLF's work with conservatives, examplesHarris Funeral Homes amicus brief, in support of ADF's client. WoLF v. US lawsuit filed in 2016; accepted $15,000 from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to cover legal costs associated with litigation. Meriwether amicus brief about preferred pronouns, in support of ADF's client. Gavin Grimm amicus brief with the Family Policy Alliance. Parent Resource Guide on Transgender Issues by WoLF, the Heritage Foundation, and the Family Policy Alliance, supported by the American College of PediatriciansPART TWO of conversation and notes, w/more links!
Welcome to Notes on Feminism and the Culture Wars, my name is Bess Hungerford and this is a podcast about politics. We will talk about grassroots feminist organizing, the rise of Christian nationalism, especially in the US, and most importantly, why women's liberation is antithetical to conservatism.Please join me and my fascinating guests as we discuss a wide range of topics including sex and gender in law and language, political disagreement, and, of course, feminism. 
Bess comments that she knew she disagreed with Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF)’s approach to gender identity in 2016, but didn't consider it a "red flag" for conservatism until later. Shani describes her introduction to WoLF's political priorities (including formalizing a relationship with a far right fundraiser) and explains, by reference to Marx and Engels, why the assertion that conservatives are opposed to porn/prostitution is ridiculous and shocking. Radical feminists and conservatives are not aligned!
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