Talk:Radical feminism/Archive 6

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Archive 5 Archive 6 Archive 7


The term TERF is viewed as a slur by those it is directed at, but the sources do not suggest that the term is widely considered pejorative. EvergreenFir (talk) 22:32, 9 December 2017 (UTC)

Evergreen, this is clearly pejorative and intended as such. For example:
  • Bennett, Catherine (19 November 2017). "Bullies everywhere delight in coming up with new insults". The Guardian.
  • Rea, Samantha (7 November 2016). "How can Juno Dawson call herself a feminist when she's labelling women as TERFs?". The Independent.
  • Ditum, Sarah (29 September 2017). "What is a Terf? How an internet buzzword became a mainstream slur". New Statesman.
SarahSV (talk) 04:49, 10 December 2017 (UTC)
@SlimVirgin: Those are op-eds. We need WP:RS to describe this term as pejorative if we are to label it as such in wikivoice. I understand that, as the New Yorker source says, the people the term is used to describe consider the term a slur. That does not mean, however, that it is widely viewed as such. Neither the acronym TERF nor the term transphobic are pejorative or offensive in their literal meanings pr origins (compared to something like "fuckboi" or wigger). To adhere to NPOV, we cannot label the term "pejorative" unless that is a widely used descriptor. Over at TERF there's a clear and appropriate effort to ascribe opinions about the acronym to individuals. Such detailed discussion of those opinions belongs there, not here. EvergreenFir (talk) 08:14, 10 December 2017 (UTC)
Something to note: I'm not sure if anyone tried to claim that "TERF" is understood to be a slur in general. What I added to the article at least explained that many radfems see it that way, which is definitely true (see my response in the previous section). TaylanUB (talk) 17:49, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
I'd challenge that "many" radical feminists view the term that way. Some, but from my understanding, TERF ideology is rather fringe within radical feminism as a whole. Many queer folks (myself included) align with radical feminism rather strongly. EvergreenFir (talk) 06:36, 15 December 2017 (UTC)
I see it exactly the other way around. From what I know, there are exactly two prominent radical feminists who openly oppose(d) the so-called "TERF" position: Catharine MacKinnon and John Stoltenberg (Andrea Dworkin's late life partner). The latter is a man who has been starkly criticized over his position by Nikki Craft who was a good friend of Dworkin and curates the Andrea Dworkin Online Library: (And having read about half a dozen of Dworkin's books, all but the first one notably NOT talking about trans issues in any part, I find myself agreeing with Craft in that the attempt to use Dworkin as a token "pro-trans" radfem is rather disrespectful.) We have no idea whatsoever what Dworkin would have to say in the current atmosphere. All we have is a single passage from her first book published in 1974. In which, by the way, she did NOT say MtF transsexuals were women, and in fact suggested that in a post-patriarchy, transsexuals might cease to exist, which would probably get her called a TERF today. What she did say was that transsexuals uniquely suffer under patriarchy, and that they are entitled to a sex change operation as an emergency remedy. (To this day I hold views mostly in line with hers, and I get called a TERF, for the record.) On the other hand, here is an incomplete list of radical feminists who are or may be considered "TERF", mostly from the top of my head: Julie Bindel, Sheila Jeffreys, Alice Schwarzer, Germaine Greer, Robin Morgan, Janice Raymond, Mary Daly, Linda Bellos, Lierre Keith, Claire Heuchan (aka Sister Outrider, writes for AfterEllen now), Victoria Smith (aka Glosswitch, New Statesman and The Independent writer), Sarah Ditum, Meghan Murphy, Robert Jensen, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie if she could be considered a radfem. Also many of the lesser-known feminists who published for Feminist Current. I have also seen bell hooks being called a TERF over her ideas, although I think the situation was an outlier. I would conclude that the "anti-TERF" position is nowadays a very fringe position within radical feminism whereas the so-called "TERF" position is rather common. TaylanUB (talk) 16:06, 15 December 2017 (UTC)
EvergreenFir please tell me if you need more time to respond to the above. Otherwise I will assume agreement and edit the page accordingly. TaylanUB (talk) 20:23, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
I agree that if there is a separate TERF page, this page should not emphasise it. Moreover, I think it still is relatively new and probably a lot of radical feminists have not chimed into this conversation. Personally, i think about contributions in the late 1960s like cell 16 and SCUM manifesto as radical feminism. This new fourth wave / gender critical stuff is just emerging and difficult to write anything meaningful about yet.Fred (talk) 04:09, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
@Frederika Eilers: any opinion on the page issues raised by TaylanUB? EvergreenFir (talk) 04:26, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for your encouragement, Evergreen. I agree with you that its a drop in the bucket. I'm not sure if it is widely considered pejorative or not. I think we should be careful because the people who came up with TERF may not necessarily use radical feminism in this sense, rather it might be a larger sense like in opposition to liberal feminism. A really good overview was published recently, but it's not Open Access. [1] While the Goldberg piece was influential, it really was motivated by Jeffreys' book. Awkward-Rich wrote (827) "The tension between lesbian separatist and trans communities has its roots in the women’s movement of the 1970s and 1980s, best demonstrated by the conflict surrounding the publication of Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male (1994), which she first published in 1979." So I wonder if TERF is a misnomer (or imprecise), and the tensions are really with the lesbian separatist. Makes me want to read Susan Stryker's book too. But this is really outside of my area of expertise.Fred (talk) 05:11, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Fred, I don't believe "trans-exclusionary radical feminist" is imprecise or a misnomer. Whether the acronym TERF is imprecise or not, is a subtly different question; and whether either one is pejorative, or a slur, is yet another. Whatever tension that exists now surrounding the topic, has evolved from when the term was first created.

When the term first saw the light of day in 2008[2], it was clearly neither pejorative, nor a slur.[3] It was created by some radfems to refer to other radfems with whom they disagreed about attitudes toward transgender individuals, and rather than write a paragraph each time just to describe who they were talking about, they came up with the term "trans exclusionary radical feminist" as a simple, descriptive term they could use to talk about the topic in a reasonably concise way. The acronym was introduced simultaneously as a parenthetical term, so that they wouldn't have to type the longer, rather unwieldy expression every time they needed to refer to it.

In my opinion, the impression of whether someone is using a slur or saying something pejoratively that might otherwise be taken in a neutral fashion has a lot to do with past history, present context, who the speaker is and what class they belong to vis-a-vis the listener, and with paralinguistic phenomena such as tone of voice, facial expression, tempo, and body language. Also, a term like "trans exclusionary radical feminist" falls into the "descriptive type" in Christopher Potts's typology[4]. Adam Croom says that people employ "descriptive types in order to pick out descriptive items", whereas they use expressive types "to express their heightened emotional state."[5] The four-word term clearly seems descriptive, and it's hard to imagine an emotional charged encounter with picketers carrying placards or shouting the descriptive term. The abbreviation, it seems to me, can go either way. Clearly in the blogs where the abbreviation was first used online, it was simply a alternate version of the longer, descriptive expression, and used purely for convenience, without expressive intent. Although I've never heard the acronym spoken, I can imagine it being used either as a descriptive type, or as an expressive type, such as in two groups yelling epithets at each other, where the expressive sense would be clear. In print (or online) it could also be either one, and in the end, it depends on the intent of the speaker. I think where there is mutual suspicion among antagonistic groups, it's easy to imagine TERF being read as a slur regardless of intent.

When one reads a Wikipedia article, the assumption is that everything is written as a descriptive type and not as an expressive type (even when dispassionately explicitly discussing words that are slurs, since they are being mentioned descriptively, not used expressively). Some words which may be slurs in one context and not in another have articles on Wikipedia which may be disambig pages (faggot, tranny) or articles (she-male). Everyone is aware, I think, of the pejorative senses of these words when used in certain context, by certain speakers, but as long as the article takes a dispassionate attitude and calls out the pejorative sense, which these all do, if there is a legitimate usage of the word, then it may be used so; and I'm not aware of any campaign to suppress these articles (though I may have missed it, but wouldn't support suppression).

It seems to me that TERF is in this same category: it's clearly used sometimes in a purely descriptive way, apparently also sometimes in a pejorative way, and as long as Wikipedia sticks to the first usage (and notes the second) I see no reason why we can't use it as a descriptive term. Having said that, there are some words that are seen so negatively, that they can barely be used at all in spoken or written language (I can only think of two, and one of those is less opprobrious in the U.K.) but my sense is that TERF is not close to being in that category, although it's hard to make that call, since there's relatively little data to go on. Mathglot (talk) 11:01, 17 December 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Awkward-Rich, Cameron (June 2017). "Trans, Feminism: Reading like a Depressed Transsexual: Winner of the 2017 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 42 (4): 819–841. doi:10.1086/690914.
  2. ^ Smythe, Viv (tigtog) (2008-08-17). "Carnivalia, transgenderism and the gender binary". Hoyden About Town. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  3. ^ Williams, Cristan (2014-03-15). "TERF: what it means and where it came from". The TransAdvocate. Retrieved 2017-12-17. (from interview of TigTog ('T') by Cristan ('C') of TransAdvocate ):
    T: Lauredhel and I are pretty sure that we started using trans-exclusionary radfem (TERF) activists as a descriptive term in our own chats a while before I used it in that post.
    C: TERFs have made some assertions about your lexical contribution to feminist discourse. For instance: 'TERF is not meant to be explanatory, but insulting. These characterizations are hyperbolic, misleading, and ultimately defamatory.'
    T: It was not meant to be insulting. It was meant to be a deliberately technically neutral description of an activist grouping.
  4. ^ Potts, Christopher (October 2007). "The expressive dimension" (PDF). Theoretical Linguistics. de Gruyter. 33 (2): 167. doi:10.1515/TL.2007.011. ISSN 1613-4060. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  5. ^ Croom, Adam M. (May 2011). "Slurs". Language Sciences. 33 (3): 344. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2010.11.005. Retrieved 17 December 2017.


The roots of radical feminism lie with Simone de Beauvoir and Monique Wittig, neither of whom get even a passing mention here.

Either this article should be retitled Radical feminism in the United States, which is all it talks about now (and that solution would be fine by me). Otherwise, under the current title, there is an extreme undue bias towards the U.S. history of radical feminism which needs to be balanced with appropriate mention of other countries, with France at the very top of the list.

As a side-note, even with respect to the U.S., there are gaps. Betty Friedan is not mentioned, who predates most other feminists mentioned in the article. She was an early mainstream feminist (definitely not radical) but to a not insignificant extent, radical feminism grew out of opposition to her writings and actions, and to those of other, early second-wave mainstream feminists of her ilk. Radical feminism didn't come out of nowhere, and it's important to set the background and context for these developments, and Friedan should be right up there, with her exclusionary attitudes towards lesbian feminists in NOW. Those struggles, and how they evolved, were one of the threads that influenced or led to the U.S. thread of radical feminism. Mathglot (talk) 21:54, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

Mathglot, if you want to write such a section and you have the sources making the link to radical feminism, please go ahead. The tag is intended for issues that haven't been resolved through writing, or where you've tried but have been stopped. SarahSV (talk) 22:29, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
I will if I get the time. In the meantime, please leave the maintenance template there while the issue remains unresolved. Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 10:08, 22 December 2017 (UTC)
Mathglot, the issue is resolved. You're welcome to add the material. Not only is no one preventing it; you are being encouraged to add it, assuming you have good sources. There is therefore no justification for the tag. It isn't reasonable to tag articles if you're able to fix them but choose not to. If we all did that, most (if not all) articles would be tagged all the time. SarahSV (talk) 20:49, 22 December 2017 (UTC)

Expanding on the term "TERF"

Since the previous discussion didn't result in any reasoning for why this content I had previously added should be removed, I've just re-added it. I'm starting a fresh section if someone still thinks it's objectionable, as the previous talk section got kind of derailed I think? I would appreciate it if we could focus on the exact added content, and no tangential issues, if someone thinks it's objectionable. Taylan (talk) 19:08, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

Saying "didn't result in any reasoning for why this content I had previously added should be removed" is incorrect and moving toward WP:IDHT. Your addition is WP:UNDUE and relies too heavily on opinion pieces. Yet again, you're doing WP:SYNTH by claiming a link between the term TERF and a few violence episodes. WP:RS must make that link, not editors regardless of how obvious you find it. EvergreenFir (talk) 20:51, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Agreed. This article only needs one sentence about the term TERF. We have a whole section at Feminist views on transgender and transsexual people for people that want more detailed information/opinions. It's WP:UNDUE here. Kaldari (talk) 21:00, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
If anything, NOT mentioning the radical feminist opposition to the term "TERF" would be undue here, as the page is ABOUT radical feminism. Can you explain why radical feminist positions on the term "TERF" should not be expanded on within a page about radical feminism? Taylan (talk) 21:50, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
A summary of opinions of radical feminists regarding the term TERF is warranted. I'd have no problem with adding a line or two that this subgroup of radical feminists think the term is pejorative. But that's not what you're adding. EvergreenFir (talk) 23:20, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
(Will respond in the branch of the discussion below, as it's essentially the same topic.) Taylan (talk) 18:17, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
I went over this before, and you haven't addressed it then either: this page talks about radical feminism, and the content I added was about the views of radical feminists, sourced directly with opinion pieces by prominent radical feminists. The fact that they are opinion pieces seems entirely irrelevant to me, as the topic *is* their opinions. At no point have I tried, for instance, to present their opinions as fact. One point I can see you arguing is that the phrasing "the term was associated with..." implies some factual causality; if that's what bothers you then I can reword it to say more clearly what's meant with this "association". (In case of the Vancouver Women's Library, the word was painted on the walls by the vandals, of which a picture exists at Feminist Current; at Speaker's Corner, the group whose members assaulted MacLachlan was chanting "when TERFs attack, we fight back", which is heard at least in the video linked by Feminist Current, though I think other sources mentioned it as well.) In a previous discussion you also claimed that "TERF" positions are fringe. That too I countered by pointing out that a fairly vast number of radical feminists hold "TERF" positions (I listed about a dozen names), in contrast to 1-2 prominent radical feminists ever having expressed opposition to said positions. In light of these facts, can you explain more clearly why you think my additions are WP:UNDUE, why opinion pieces by prominent radical feminists shouldn't be used to explain the opinions of radical feminists, and how I'm doing WP:SYNTH? Taylan (talk) 21:49, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
Your edit did not ascribe individual opinions, but instead used opinion pieces to make statements in Wikipedia's voice. You cannot do that. You claiming there is an association is SYNTH because you are not relying on WP:RS to claim there is an association (causal or not). Find some reliable sources that make this claim, or propose that we say "some radical feminists claim there is an association" and cite the opinion pieces. IMHO, we should not be using biased sources (which aren't bad per se) to make claims about violence; Feminist Current and TransAdvocate should be avoided here. EvergreenFir (talk) 23:25, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm not sure how much clearer the section could be. Perhaps the second clause of the first sentence should be changed to say "often been perceived as a slur by radical feminists", or the word "often" dropped or substituted? As I said, I can change the claim of "association" with more detailed statements of fact. The assault at Speaker's Corner was well-documented by several sources, with video footage on Feminist Current. I just looked at the FC article about the Vancouver Women's Library again, and apparently it was not about the vandalization but the prior harassment during the opening; I can go into detail about that. In any case the article contains direct recountings of events, and Feminist Current is certainly reliable enough to trust it on direct retellings of events. (Tell me if I'm missing something.) The last sentence could be reworded so as not to include the phrase "noting the number of people", if you think it implies some sort of non-factual claim or original research? All in all, how about the following:
The terms TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and transphobic have been used to refer to radical feminists who hold these views, although "TERF" has often been perceived as a slur by those it's used against.[77][61] Radical feminist journalist Sarah Ditum said that the term is used to silence feminists through guilt by association.[78] In February 2017, a group of people harassed attendents at the opening of the Vancouver Women's Library after the library refused to remove books that were perceived to contain "TERF" viewpoints.[79] In September 2017, some members of a group that could be heard chanting "when TERFs attack, we fight back" in protest against a feminist gathering about gender at Speaker's Corner in London, physically assaulted a woman partaking in the gathering.[80] Meghan Murphy, noting that some people were defending or celebrating the physical assault on the grounds that the assaulted woman was a "TERF", opined afterwards that the term should be considered a form of hate speech that is used to incite violence against women.[81]
Honestly, I see the same pattern as ever unfolding here that I've complained about before: it might not be intentional but I think you're applying an extreme amount of scrutiny to the content I'm trying to add because you feel ideologically uncomfortable with it. To be honest, the situation sort of reminds me of a section from the introduction of Andrea Dworkin's Our Blood...
I was not supposed to say, for example, “Women are raped.” I was supposed to say, “Green-eyed women with one leg longer than the other, hair between the teeth, French poodles, and a taste for sauteed vegetables are raped occasionally on Fridays by persons.” -- Dworkin
That about sums up how I feel on Wikipedia sometimes when I try to edit transgender-related pages, at least adding content mentioning radical feminist viewpoints. Taylan (talk) 18:17, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
To EvergreenFir: I would appreciate it if you were to respond to this. It's a serious deficit that the article doesn't expand on radical feminist positions on the "TERF" issue, but I don't know what changes you think would need to be made for the content I've been trying to add to be acceptable. Taylan (talk) 15:29, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
Not sure how to respond with that Dworkin quote. I think the addition of the book store and speaker's corner are UNDUE. Might need an rfc. EvergreenFir (talk) 23:36, 14 January 2018 (UTC)


Maybe we can ask for Mathglot and Aircorn to chime in on the content I wanted to add, before we make an RFC. Taylan (talk) 20:01, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

A short sentence, or even better addition to the current sentence, explaining the rad feminist view on the uses of TERF is all that is needed. No need for the extra detail, that can be debated at the "views" page where it is more WP:Due. AIRcorn (talk) 22:11, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Radical feminists who hold theses views have been called transphobic and trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). Some feminists say the use of the term TERF is hate speech or a way to silence women through guilt by association.
I am not sure why we put TERF first instead of spelling it out first as we do with other acronyms. This wording is just an example and can be tightened or changed as seen fit, I just took it from the two disputed versions. AIRcorn (talk) 22:24, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Quickie comment, since I was paged: generally agree here with Aircorn, esp. the part about spelling it out.
The whole topic of when something's a slur and when it isn't has everything to do with context and intent, so even if it is sometimes a slur, doesn't mean it always is. Recall that many terms which originated as slurs, were later reappropriated (cue N-word, tranny, queer, peckerwood, etc.). However, this term seems to have taken the opposite trajectory: i.e., started out as a descriptive term, then got reappropriated (dys-propriated?) as a slur. If we're going to go into more detail than Aircorn proposes here, then the origin of the term (created by radfems as a simple descriptive term) should be included.
What may be going on with it is a type of linguistic interference (not linked, cuz article only talks about a different sense of that term) a.k.a., "the Gresham's law of semantic change" in which bad meanings drive out the good.[1][2] Will try to come back with more detail later. Mathglot (talk) 05:52, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Aircorn's greentext looks good to me. EvergreenFir (talk) 06:16, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Oh, and not sure if I was clear, I was in too much of a hurry: I also agree with greentext as well. Mathglot (talk) 06:43, 16 January 2018 (UTC)


Added Aircorn's greentext, using existing citations plus the Feminist Current citation to make it clear where the "hate speech" claim comes from. Taylan (talk) 08:40, 27 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Millar, Robert McColl; Trask, Larry (20 February 2015). Trask's Historical Linguistics. Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-317-54177-6. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  2. ^ Pütz, Martin (2 September 1992). Thirty Years of Linguistic Evolution: Studies in honour of René Dirven on the occasion of his 60th birthday. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 253. ISBN 978-90-272-7403-8. Retrieved 15 January 2018.

Etymology section removed

I removed the one-sentence Etymology section, which claimed as the etymology of the term "radical feminism", that "The 'radical' in radical feminism means 'root', not 'extreme'...". This is a minority opinion of the author of that piece, Mary Bucholtz (cited here).[a] The roots of radical feminism as a term go back to at least 1967, where SDS women (i.e., "radical women") were teaching courses on women in Chicago, and maybe further. Mathglot (talk) 11:05, 13 May 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Quoting Bucholtz: "What makes radical feminism radical is not its goals, but its founding principles; here, radical means not 'extreme' but 'root.' For radical feminists, the root cause of social inequality is gender inequality, which is based in men's systematic and structural subordination of women, or patriarchy." Her statement about the root cause of social inequality is a pretty good restatement of basic radical feminist sentiment; but her claim about the role root plays in the etymology of radical feminism is fanciful.

Adding examples?

Some recent examples could be added for additional context, like the Cathy Newman debacle, ban of the Red Pill in Australia, ban of grid girls and walk-on girls as well as other clashes between radfems and the society at large. Maybe even add a whole section about infiltration of academia (women's studies, gender studies...). It would help to put things in perspective, to show how the ideology interacts with the rest of the world. Nikolaneberemed (talk) 17:59, 26 June 2018 (UTC)