Who—Or WHAT—Are the RatFems?

rat  (răt)


a. Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus.
b. Any of various animals similar to one of these long-tailed rodents.
2.   Slang
a. A despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs upon associates.
b. A scab laborer.
3.   A pad of material, typically hair, worn as part of a woman’s coiffure to puff out her own hair.  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rat

Who are the RatFems?  They call themselves “Radical Feminists.” On one of their blogs, the RatFems state, “We are female-identified, women-born women and are collectively anti-pornography, anti-prostitution, trans-critical, and PIV-critical.”  For anyone who doesn’t know, “PIV” stands for “penis in vagina.” Yes,  for real!  I am 100% serious!)   (http://radicalhub.com/about/)

My immediate reaction to this is to call bullshit because I think the RatFems are a bunch of self-serving, man-hating, bigoted wannabes who are so resentful of other people’s power that they take it out on other oppressed groups by trying to rob them of power (which, by the way, is a classic example of zero-sum thinking—the way men tend to conceptualize power, while women’s conceptualization of power tends to be non-zero-sum) but I am going to approach this in an organized, logical, non-emotional, rational manner (and I promise not to accuse anyone of assaulting me! 😉 ) 

Feminism, by definition, is:

…a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.  In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.   A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism)

Feminists are concerned about equal rights for women.  The RatFems do not support equal rights for trans women, therefore, by definition, the RatFems are not feminists.

Radical feminism, by definition, is

…a current perspective within feminism that focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women. Radical feminism aims to challenge and overthrow patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and oppression of women and calls for a radical reordering of society.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_feminism)

Blah, blah, blah.  Okay.  Radical feminists focus on the overall dynamic of patriarchy and challenging gender roles.  The RatFems may or may not be “radical” but the  RatFems are still not feminists.

Separatist feminism, by definition, is “a form of radical feminism that holds that opposition to patriarchy is best done through focusing exclusively on women and girls.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separatist_feminism)  RatFest and the RatFems’ statement in their blog (quoted above)  about who they are should be clear indications of exclusive focus on women and girls. So it would appear that the RatFems may be “radical” and that they are “separatists”… but the RatFems are not “feminists!”

Lesbian separatism, by definition, is a form of separatist feminism specific to lesbians and:

…is posited as a key feminist strategy that enables women to invest their energies in other women, creating new space and dialogue about women’s relationships, and typically, limits their dealings with men….  In addition to advocating withdrawal from working, personal or casual relationships with men, The Furies recommended that Lesbian Separatists relate “only (with) women who cut their ties to male privilege” and suggest that “as long as women still benefit from heterosexuality, receive its privileges and security, they will at some point have to betray their sisters, especially Lesbian sisters who do not receive those benefits.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_separatism#Lesbian_separatism)

In  Learning from Lesbian Separatism, Bunch maintains that “in a male-supremacist society, heterosexuality is a political institution” and separatism is a way to “escape its domination.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_separatism#Lesbian_separatism    The RatFems cite “Sheila Jeffreys’s [sic] entire life’s work of pro-female, pro-lesbian, PIV-critical radical feminist analysis” on their blog (http://radicalhub.com/2012/06/26/carrying-a-sheila-jeffreys-sign-at-dyke-march-is-inappropriate-what/) and they had invited Jeffreys to speak at this year’s RatFest (although that didn’t work out) so the RatFems clearly see Jeffreys as a role model of sorts.  In a pamphlet that Jeffreys helped write, it is stated, “We do think… that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Jeffreys

“Female-identified” seems to be code for “lesbian;”  the RatFems appear to be “radical,” they are apparently “lesbian”and they are “separatists”)… BUT the RatFems are still not “feminists!”

Historically, radical feminists opposed pornography and prostitution,  so that is consistent with how the RatFems describe themselves.  However, Ellen Willis cautioned against making alliances with the political right on these issues, which is quite ironic because the RatFems—with their vitriolic hatred and misogynistic stereotyping of trans women—look and sound just like the rabid right-winger KKKristian fundamentalist bigots we all love to hate.

Misogyny, by definition is:

…the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women or girls.  According to feminist theory, misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women….    Traditional feminist theorists describe many different attitudes as misogyny.  According to feminists, in its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female….   In feminist theory other forms of misogyny may be less overt.   Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories.   “Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves….” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny)

Wow.  Discrimination against trans women is misogyny.  (Who woulda thought?)   And, since the RatFems make no secret about their discrimination against trans women, the Ratfems practically brag about being misogynists. The RatFems do a great disservice to everyone.  They exemplify the stereotype that all feminists are lesbians and all lesbians are man-hating bull-dykes who want to be (or think they are) MEN.  If the RatFems discriminate against trans women (who one could say have a disability, i.e., they were born with a medical birth defect that resulted in them being raised the wrong gender and it requires medical treatment), who else are they oppressing and discriminating against?  In addition to gender identity, (and apparently sexual orientation)—categories the RatFems don’t seem concerned with—other radical feminists recognize other categories of oppression  including:   race, social class, perceived attractiveness,  and ability, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_feminism) and in light of more recent events, I would also be concerned about oppression based on ethnicity, color, religion, culture and national origin as well, to name a few.  Do the RatFems care about any categories besides the ones their privileged few belong to?  Do they recognize and acknowledge their own privilege (white, Judeo-Christian, American, cisgender, for example) in our society?   Somehow, I doubt it.

The RatFems are radical, lesbian separatists who believe in equal rights for women who are like them and if someone is not like them, that person’s very existence is a threat because it brings into question the validity of how the RatFems are living their own lives.   If you’re not a lesbian and/or you “do dick,” you’re out.  If your definition of pornography doesn’t match theirs and you aren’t against it and all forms of prostitution, you’re out.  If you don’t clearly identify yourself as a woman 100% of the time (using a binary gender system) or you were not born and raised as a female child OR you recognize trans women as human beings and women who were born with a medical condition that has been or is being corrected medically, you are out.  If you don’t agree 100% with THEIR agenda, YOU ARE OUT.  Sounds controlling, huh?  Sounds a lot like straight, white, cisgender men to me.  The RatFems are NOT Radical Feminists. The RatFems are misogynists. 

Who—Or WHAT—Are the RatFems?

The RatFems are Radical Fauxminists.

Posted on July 6, 2012, in Radfem, transgender, transphobia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Vanessa Emma Goldman

    thank you so much for this!


  2. robynjanesheppard

    Radfems–who hate anything or anyone that reduces them to the sum of their bodily parts–do the same thing themselves when they claim that unless you are born with a vagina and ovaries, you cannot be a woman.


    • They’re as bad as NOM as far as I’m concerned, except apparently don’t have as much political influence… because they’re women and a lot of them are lesbians. They actually seem PROUD of their transphobia–as though being bigots is something to be proud of…?


  3. RATFems are feminists in the first wave of feminism – the wave i was on in the 1960s and jumped off of as soon as I heard Betty Friedan speak to union working women in Rome Italy in 1971. Roman working women were striking for better wages and conditions during their lunch hour and after work when I was there during my junior year of college (yep I am ancient)

    Friedan spoke in English with no script and expected the translation to be verbatim.

    She told these working union women that what they needed to do was get jobs – the booed her & I was the only American in the room who booed along with the Italian women.

    It was then that I began to realize the feminists were clueless.

    Then when I returned home to the states I realized the feminists excluded lesbians and bisexual women because they did not want to be seen as men haters, I hated feminists even more.

    And when I saw that their only agenda was to crash through the glass ceiling (it still is) and they did not care at all about working class and low income women, and left women who needed safe abortions behind, I realized that that the first wave of feminists were str8 women whose husbands cheated in their offices with working women (their secretaries) .and these housewives were bored and pissed.

    Those first wave feminists were a bunch of selfish, self-centered, bored broads who only wanted to make loads of money to continue in the lifestyle they had become accustomed to when their upper management husbands supported them.

    These RAT-Fems are following the same first wave tsunami – leaving everyone else behind and getting what they want. & they don’t care about the wreckage.


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