RFU Position Statement: Support for Lesbians

Lesbians are female homosexuals; that is, biological females who are sexually and romantically attracted to other biological females. While all women are allowed to refuse sex with males at any time, lesbians in particular exclude men from their sex lives as a matter of policy due to being only interested in other females.

Lesbians have always represented a challenge to patriarchy and have angered men who believe that all women should be available to them. In recent years the popularity of the “trans women are women” narrative has meant that lesbian events and organizations have been bullied into including males who wish to call themselves lesbians.

In Toronto, the concept of the “cotton ceiling” was coined by a male-to-female transgender porn star, Drew DeVeaux, who wishes for lesbians to consider male-born persons as possible sexual partners, despite the fact that lesbians, by definition, are not attracted to males. Planned Parenthood of Toronto supported this concept in 2012 and ran a workshop that encouraged male-born persons to find ways to overcome the “cotton ceiling” of lesbians’ underwear in order to become their sexual partners.

Dyke March Toronto encourages males who wish to call themselves lesbians to participate in the Dyke March and requires all participants to pretend as though males can be lesbians and that lesbians should consider males as possible sexual partners. Anyone who points out the inherent lesbophobia of this policy is called names and has their comments deleted.

Toronto is a hostile environment for lesbians, since female-only lesbian events and spaces have been abandoned in favour of events that include men. The very idea of excluding men from our sex lives and private spaces is regarded as bigoted by all of Toronto’s institutions, who prefer to cater to males who identify as women. Lesbians are being gas-lighted by these institutions that attempt to make lesbians believe that their sexual orientation includes men.

Radical Feminists Unite promotes female-only space and supports the rights of lesbians and all women to refuse to include men in our sex lives and in our private spaces. Lesbians are welcome in our group and will be fully supported as females who are exclusively attracted to other females.

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Taking The Revolutionary Road: Ending Violence Against Women

EVAW poster

We would like to thank the Philippine Women Centre of Ontario, the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution and Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry for putting on a fantastic panel discussion on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at the University of Toronto. Speakers from these three organizations spoke about the roots of oppression faced by women of colour in Canada, with particular attention to the temporary foreign worker program and its effect on Filipino women, the effects of residential schools and the Indian Act on Indigenous women, and the system of prostitution which disproportionately affects Asian and Indigenous women.

Canada’s temporary foreign worker program has brought large numbers of Filipino women into Canada to become caregivers in private households. Panelists explained that 84% of these women have a university education and 67% of them have children. Although these women are mostly educated professionals, they are performing low-skill work for low wages and are facing many barriers in upgrading their education or finding work in their fields. While performing caregiving work, women are often overworked, underpaid, subject to sexual violence and economic exploitation, and separated from their children, all of which have negative effects on their mental health. They are separated from their children for about 8–10 years, on average. Most of them continue with caregiving work or other “survival” work after the temporary foreign worker program has been completed, due to years of working outside their field and being unable to upgrade their education.

The Residential School system in Canada, which continued until 1996, separated Aboriginal children from their families and attempted to assimilate them into the white colonizer’s culture. In these Residential schools, white teachers taught patriarchal values to the children and instilled in them the belief that Aboriginal women and girls have no value. The Indian Act also reflected the beliefs of white male settlers and took status away from Indigenous women. The government of Canada is still failing to properly investigate the murders of Indigenous women, who are often dismissed as living a “high-risk” lifestyle. It is a high risk to be an Aboriginal woman in Canada, but this is not because of their own choices—it’s because of the systemic racism and sexism in Canada that continues to go largely unchallenged. Indigenous women are over-represented in prostitution in Canada, even though this is not a part of Aboriginal cultures. There is no word in any local Indigenous language for prostitution—this is a system introduced to this land by colonizers. It is in fact racist to claim that prostitution is the “oldest profession” in Canada, because this oppression did not exist here until colonization.

Revolutionary changes are needed to end the oppression of women in Canada. Women’s place in society needs to be changed—women need to be treated as equals in society rather than subordinate to men. New immigrants in Canada need to be treated as skilled workers, not as babysitters, and should not face barriers to obtaining meaningful employment in their fields. The temporary foreign workers program should be abolished and immigration laws changed to reflect the fact that immigrant women are skilled workers like everyone else. Many Filipina nannies are working for upper-class women so they can further their career goals. Even privileged women find that they are responsible for all the childcare due to attitudes about women’s place in society and their husbands not doing child care. A state-funded childcare program would ease the burden on all women and would eliminate the problem of upper-class women depending on the low-paid work of less privileged women in order to secure their place in the workforce.

Indigenous women deserve full safety and equality, and prostitution is incompatible with this goal. The organization Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry supports the new prostitution law in Canada, which regrettably has not been enforced much so far, because it holds men accountable for their violence. Much more needs to be done by police officers to hold male abusers accountable for the rapes and murders they inflict on marginalized women. Unfortunately, police officers are often the johns and the abusers of Indigenous women, and they represent the colonizers. There is understandable skepticism that the white colonizers’ justice system will ever be any help; however, we need to keep working to hold men accountable in every way that we can. The cultural construct of masculinity needs to be redefined—men should not learn that ownership and control over women is their right, and that violence is a part of being a man. All Canadians need to understand that Indigenous women are valued and deserve safety and respect.

Members of Radical Feminists Unite attended this event and were very moved and energized by the excellent speakers who talked about getting to the root of women’s oppression and centering the needs of women of colour in our organizing. Women are not free until the most marginalized among us are free.

RFU Position Statement: Anti-Capitalism

Class analysis and prioritization of the most economically oppressed women is essential to radical feminism.

Radical feminist class analysis has historically had close ties to Marxism. However, Marxists often fall short on recognizing how poor/working class/proletarian women and women of colour are oppressed differently under capitalism than men of the same class and race.

We are explicitly anti-capitalist. We recognize that women are disproportionately poor under capitalism, and that capitalism depends fully upon women’s unpaid, underpaid, and otherwise exploited labour. This is especially true on the global scale where women (and children) make up the vast majority of those living in poverty, and usually have significantly less or no sociopolitical power, education, resources, etc. The bodies of women and girls are also disproportionately exploited and violated under global capitalism in the form of prostitution, pornography, ‘sex’ tourism, and associated trafficking.

As radical feminists, we recognize that no one can dismantle capitalism through their individual choices. We are critical of any “feminist analysis” that is highly individualistic, focused on personal ’empowerment,’ or suggests embracing capitalism as the solution to women’s oppression. At the same time, we encourage everyone to reject harmful choices, actions, and words that perpetuate misogyny and hurt women as a class.

[This post is intended as an expansion on our statement of principles (About Us page) and not as a comprehensive post on the subject.]

RFU Position Statement: Reproductive Rights

We fully support every woman’s right to an abortion at any point and for any reason.

We trust women to be the best judges of their own circumstances and fully capable of making their own decisions. We are strongly against shaming and ostracizing women for choosing abortion. We reject the idea of compulsory motherhood. We reject religion-based fearmongering that women are condemned for choosing abortion.

Further, as part of our anti-capitalist position, we believe that full access to proper and respectful medical care should be free and accessible to all. Abortion is a necessary procedure that should not be cost-prohibitive. Women also need access to comprehensive and accurate information about abortion in order to challenge the many myths and stereotypes surrounding it.

At the same time, we recognize that the language of reproductive rights can be co-opted by the political left in order to increase men’s access to women’s bodies. We also recognize that women may be coerced through economic, social, or other means to have abortions they do not want. We believe in being vigilant and critical about the misuse of reproductive rights without letting that misuse take away from our core pro-choice position.

[This post is intended as an expansion on our statement of principles (About Us page) and not as a comprehensive post on the subject.]

Welcome to Radical Feminists Unite!

Group logo

Radical Feminists Unite is a group of women in Toronto who get together on a regular basis to discuss feminism and to hold potlucks and film screenings. The political beliefs that brought us together are the following:

  • Under patriarchy, women are oppressed on the basis of our sex and have a right to organize against our oppression without the presence of men.
  • We define woman as someone who is born female or born intersex and raised female from birth.
  • Sexual inequality is institutionalized in society. Focusing on women’s individual choices within the system misses the point. We prefer class analysis.
  • Pornography and prostitution are violence against women. BDSM represents the eroticization of violence against women. We are for the Nordic model that decriminalizes the women in the sex trade and criminalizes pimps and sex buyers.
  • Biological sex is innate (male/female/intersex) and gender roles are a social construct. Gender is a hierarchy that reinforces men’s superior status over women. We are critical of the politics of transgenderism.
  • We are committed to anti-racism and seek to prioritize the concerns of women of colour.
  • We are pro-choice when it comes to abortion and we promote woman-centered reproductive care.
  • We are workers who are anti-capitalist. We prioritize the concerns of those disadvantaged in the capitalist system.

You can contact us at radicalfeministsunite@gmail.com.