Has Rebecca Solnit Joined Her Own Volunteer Police Force?

Rebecca Solnit coined the term ‘mansplaining’. Now she condemns other women for standing up to a gaslighting ideology.

This article was originally published on Rukhstana Sukhan’s Substack.

The volunteer police force tries to put women in their place, or put them back in it.

(Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me, p. 147)

Rebecca Solnit, the author of Men Explain Things to Me and the creator of the term mansplaining, has written a letter to ‘ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women’ in which she femsplains that male humans who identify as women are no threat to “cis” women.

In 6 short years Ms Solnit has gone from writing a book about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, to joining a movement that has morphed into the epitome of mansplaining and men who wrongly assume they know things, such as ‘trans women are women’ for example.

Trans women are male humans who identify as women—humans are not sequential hermaphrodites and are sexually dimorphic.

I’m baffled at the notion that Ms Solnit cannot see how an extremist movement of self loathing identitarian male humans who believe they are women and have cast female humans as their scapegoat absolutely does harm women, and girls too. It’s harming trans people, and it’s harming gay people, especially lesbians, who are being misguidedly called cis-lesbians and seen as transphobic for their same sex attraction by Ms Solnit’s volunteer police force.

In her letter to ‘ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women’ Solnit writes about growing up in San Francisco and her exposure to the gay and drag scenes as providing her with an exalted vision of gender that the rest of us simply don’t have. Well, Ms Solnit, my eldest brother – who died about two years ago of end stage AIDS at the age of 68 – was gay, and this exposed me to a lot of gay culture and a glimpse of the drag scene as a young girl. I met many gay men and cross dressers that he brought home to meet our mother and my father. My takeaway is different from yours, because my exposure taught me that homosexuality is all about biology being your destiny. Homosexuality is same sex attraction and my half-brother was a male human who was exclusively attracted to other male humans. He had many feminine traits and in fact he was a frequent caregiver to his younger siblings, and for much of my early life my mother only entrusted me to his care in my parent’s absence. He didn’t conform to the male norms and he was still a male. No amount of wishing to be anything else ever changed his biological reality. 

So, Ms Solnit, I don’t find propagandising gay humans to promote trans extremism constructive or humane. I actually find it disturbing that you should point to homosexuality and bisexuality as evidence that biology isn’t a destiny, because to me their existence seems evidentiary of the opposite. I also find your use of the word queer offensive—my brother and his gay community hated that word, it was used to abuse them. I witnessed the depth of hatred for homosexual humans when he was beaten to within inches of his life a few times because he was a gay man, and as I watched AIDS devastate the gay community. His story is not unique. The fetishisation of the female body and the couching of homosexuality as preference/choice is causing homophobia to rise and violence against women along with it. Yes, Ms Solnit, I agree that male violence perpetrated by straight males is a danger. How can we tell the difference between a straight male with a penchant for violent abuse who identifies as a woman and a transsexual woman if we are governed by a system of self identifying where simply stating you’re a woman makes you unquestionably one? And why do you think a straight male who has been convicted of a sex offence isn’t a threat to women when he self identifies as a woman and is sent to female prison?

Ms Solnit, you wrote that ‘trans women do not pose a threat to cis-gender women, and feminism is a subcategory of human rights advocacy, which means, sorry, you can’t be a feminist if you’re not for everyone’s human rights, notably other women’s rights.’ I’m a Muslim woman who practises hijab. Self-ID concerns me because it erodes my charter right to female only spaces, and my charter right to religious freedom. Am I not human enough, Ms Solnit? Do Muslim women’s rights count? Has transplaining, now arrived to replace mansplaining? Ms Solnit, why do you and your volunteer police force continually gaslight women by presenting a false narrative of sex based rights vs trans rights? In the time the volunteer police force expends wokescolding, terrorising, and gaslighting women, eager to roll back sex-based rights, they could be advocating for third spaces for trans people and for trans specific services to compliment what already exists. Trans people are not served by the wokus pokus volunteer police force promoting untruths about biological reality and by denying the existence of sex and society’s need to protect and promote female only spaces. 

One final issue I take with Ms Solnit’s letter to ‘ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women’ is her flippant disregard for detransitioners: ‘There’s also a hullabaloo about young people choosing to be trans who may change their minds. I’m sure they exist. Also, we all know they’re rare …’ Ms Solnit, you must surely know this is a misrepresentation of the facts, given the scandals currently swirling around Mermaids, Tavistock—a former clinician of whom wrote about the scandal in Quillette, in fact—and the lawsuit being launched by young Kiera Bell, who wished she had been challenged more by the adults around her—affirmation is proving harmful. As someone who has read the stories of many young detransitioned females, and as an autistic female who is seeing a startling number of autistic girls being victimized by gender indoctrination, I’m saddened to see that, after wokescolding and excluding women concerned about preserving sex base rights, you would blantantly deny the existence of detransitioners and their silent struggle, Ms Solnit. The transing of autistic girls has a disturbingly hysteria flavour and I wonder, Ms Solnit, why do you think gender dysphoric austistic girls should become boys rather than receive the therapy they require to be able to live in their bodies?

Ms Solnit, the 46 million girls who went missing in India and the many girls who suffer and die in period huts and who are prevented from attending school because of their menstrual cycles all have one thing in common. They are all female people. You aren’t a human rights advocate if you deny the existence of sex and of female humans as people. Women aren’t a costume, a feeling, a desire. We are humans. To suggest that this issue is only about reproductive organs, ability to produce gametes, and the ability to gestate is to patently miss the point. Being a human goes beyond the capacity to reproduce—the existence of menopausal or hysterectomised or mastectomised female humans does not provide an argument for trans women being women. Angelina Jolie is still a female human despite having had a hysterectomy and mastectomy and this is not evidence that a male who self identifies as a woman is a woman—that you would dare to promote such reasoning I find offensive and inhumane as a former oncology nurse. I, myself, remain fully female despite being menopausal, and this is not evidence that male humans who identify as women are women! Trans women are trans women and that is okay. They have specific needs and issues distinct from female people. To suggest they don’t is to bring great harm to them, that is the real hostility. I have talked to trans people and this is what they tell me. 

So, Ms Solnit, I think it’s time we defunded your volunteer police force because transplaining and placing bridle scolds on disobedient women and sterilising gay and autistic children isn’t human rights. I disagree with nearly everything in your ‘letter to ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women’ and I happen to love your books. They’ll remain on my shelf—unlike many members of your intolerant volunteer police force who launched a war on JK Rowling and her books after she wrote her thoughtful letter, I’m not going to LARP Fahrenheit 451 with your books. I’m resilient enough to respect your disagreeable perspective and not need to cancel you or your books.

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