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Ruskin College, in Oxford, England, was founded in to serve working-class men who were otherwise excluded from higher education, and went coed in But the Ruskin conference was, for the women who gathered there, a heady moment of consolidation. The conference produced several demands: equality in pay, education, and job opportunities; free contraception; abortion on demand; and free twenty-four-hour nurseries. Yet these demands though still largely unmet undersell the radicalism of what the women at Ruskin were trying to achieve. But it also required—and here they departed from the Old Guard left—a rethinking of everyday patterns of life, relating to sex, love, housework, child rearing.

The most iconic photograph from Ruskin is not of the women but of men: male partners who had been tasked with running a day care for the weekend.

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In the black-and-white photo, two men sit on the floor, surrounded by small children; one of them, the celebrated cultural theorist Stuart Hall, clutches a sleeping toddler to his chest, looking meaningfully into the camera.

Among many contemporary British feminists, especially those who lived through the arc of the liberation movement, Ruskin evokes both regret and hope—a promise that was not delivered but might be delivered still. In February of last year, an event was held at the University of Oxford to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Ruskin conference. There is no iconic photo of the event, but there is an infamous YouTube video.

One of the irate audience members was Julie Bindel, a radical feminist who campaigns against male violence, sex work, and trans rights. It would look like the set of Grease. This seems to us a key principle of Like the conference that commemorated it, Ruskin was overwhelmingly white and middle class.

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Whether or not the divisiveness of the Oxford conference was in keeping with the spirit ofit was certainly in keeping with the spirit of later episodes in the British movement, as its fault lines grew more visible during the seventies. They were visible on the other side of the Atlantic, too. Many attendees walked out. It was the last of the national conferences. What happened at Birmingham prefigured what happened at Barnard College, in New York, four years later.

At that point, a lightning rod had emerged for the contrary currents of feminism: pornography. Their feminist opponents saw the antiporn crusade as a reinforcement of a patriarchal world view that denied women sexual agency. At the event, which drew about eight hundred people, antiporn feminists distributed leaflets accusing the organizers of supporting sadomasochism, violence against women, and pedophilia. Feminist newspapers were filled with furious condemnations of the conference and indignant replies. Under the influence of liberal legal scholars such as Elena Kagan and Cass Sunstein, antiporn feminism gave up on its dream of transforming relations between women and men in favor of using criminal law to target narrow of porn.

Both antiporn and pro-sex feminism, she argues, lost their radical, utopian edge. This sort of plague-on-both-their-houses diagnosis has gained currency. She says that skeptics forget its crucial historical backdrop—the feminist and queer AIDS activism of the eighties and nineties. Both Bracewell and Nelson raise an important question about how disagreements within feminism are seen.

Where the famous rifts within the male-dominated left—between, say, E. This is not to deny that feminist debate can have a particular emotional resonance. As a professor, I detect a similar hope in the students who take my feminism classes, especially the women as most of them are. Many of them come to feminism looking for camaraderie, understanding, community. They want to articulate the shared truth of their experience, and to read great feminist texts that will reveal the world to which they should politically aspire. They want, in other words, something akin to what so many women of the second wave experienced in consciousness-raising groups.

My students soon find, in turn, that the vast body of feminist theory is riddled with disagreement. But I sense that some small disappointment remains. As young feminists like Katie J. Baker and Sophie Lewis have suggested, the contemporary trans-exclusionary movement might have as much to do with the radicalizing potential of social media as with the legacy of radical feminism. In the U. Elliott was not just a performer at the conference but one of its organizers.

And when Morgan called for a vote to eject Elliott, more than two-thirds of the attendees voted no. When Catharine MacKinnon, among the most influential theorists of radical feminism, started working as a sex-discrimination lawyer, she chose a trans woman incarcerated in a male prison as one of her first clients. Women, as they like to say and, in the U. Yet they tend to reinforce the dominant view that certain bodies must present in particular ways.

Meanwhile, trans-exclusionary feminists often criticize trans women for embracing stereotypical femininity. In truth, the contrast is not always clearly marked. But, as the philosopher Christa Peterson has pointed out, seeing gendered behavior as evidence of gender identity need not presuppose that gender is a matter of being inclined to perform in gender-stereotypical ways. This would mean that people could have innate gender identities that express themselves in historically and culturally contingent ways.

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Such a view would require rejecting the thesis, dear to some feminists, that humans are born without any innate gender concepts. These are subtle distinctions. But few trans-exclusionary feminists appear interested in the subtleties of what trans people say about themselves. Many trans people, in making sense of themselves, refer to the idea of an innate gender identity; many do not. A constant transformation, without fixed identity, without fixed activity, or address or country.

I believe no such thing. Stories about identity, even deeply personal ones, are responsive to political conditions. At the same time, the narrative has been stifling for many gay and lesbian people. Inthe actress Cynthia Nixon provoked the anger of L. The legalization of same-sex marriage and the growing visibility of gay people in public life and in mass culture make it easier for gay people like Nixon to be candid about the psychic complexities of choice, desire, and identity. Likewise, if trans people secured legal protection and social recognition, would they be freer to speak the full truths of their lives?

As trans people have pointed out, the stories they tell about themselves—most obviously, when trying to satisfy medical gatekeepers—are often the ones demanded by those who are not trans. However fervently desired. Rather it would seem from their own comments that the process opens up a question about sexual being to which it is more often than not impossible to offer a definitive reply. This is of course true for all human subjects. The bar of sexual difference is ruthless but that does not mean that those who believe they subscribe to its law have the slightest idea of what is going on beneath the surface, any more than the one who submits less willingly.

The political question is whose accommodations are penalized and whose are permitted. In drawing a connection between the experiences of trans and non-trans people, Rose is on tricky terrain. Others take gender dysphoria to be simply the condition of being trans, and therefore, by definition, only trans people experience it.

The claim that cis people can experience something akin to gender dysphoria is worrying to trans advocates; they fear it supports the idea that there are, for example, no trans boys, only confused cis girls. It is also true that many non-trans women know something of the heartbreak caused by a body that betrays—that weighs you down with unwanted breasts and hips; that transforms you from an agent of action into an object of male desire; that is, in some mortifying sense, not a reflection of who you really are.

But what might a conversation between women, trans and non, look like if it started from a recognition of such continuities of experience? Like Rose, Faye sees a connection between trans liberation and a broader project of human freedom. Unlike them, she said, she had been told as a girl to love her body. Trans-exclusionary feminists often deplore what they see as the encouragement that trans boys receive to intervene in their bodies, rather than to accommodate themselves to them.

Occasionally, I also detect in their disapproval a whisper of something akin to wistful desire. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge. And given the painful experience that this living as women is for so many, what right do trans women have to claim that experience as their own?

We see it, I think, in some older women who tell the young women of the MeToo moment to toughen up—as they were forced by hostile circumstances to do—as well as in some gay men of the AIDS generation who cannot reconcile themselves to the fact that many young gay men have, thanks to the drug regimen PrEP, been released into the freedom of sexual promiscuity. The late Ann Snitow, a founder of the second-wave group New York Radical Feminists, repeatedly warned against nostalgia.

She delighted in change. And yet intersectionality is often seen as a primarily domestic concern. In a recent conversation with Barbara Smith, one of the authors of the Combahee River Collective Statement, a founding document of intersectional feminism, the Black feminist Loretta J. Such internationalism has largely withered away in Anglo-American feminism. These days, it can seem that, because feminism is so pervasive, so much on the best-seller lists and the syllabi and Twitter, we already know all about it.

But there is, unsurprisingly, still much to learn. It came about largely through the efforts of Argentine and Polish feminists, who have been leading powerful movements in their countries. It has been patiently woven and worked on.

Both books also open out onto invigorating theoretical horizons. In one assembly held in a Buenos Aires slum, neighborhood women explained that they could not strike because they ran the community soup kitchens, and had to feed needy residents, especially children. Eventually, the assembly found a solution: these women would go on strike by handing out raw food, withdrawing the labor of cooking and cleaning.

Mass movements are made, Gago argues, not by softening their demands, or narrowing their scope, but by insisting on radicalism. It must, they say, include people who are trans, queer, indigenous, and working class. For Gago and Majewska, biological essentialism is the enemy of mass politics; after all, in both countries, as in much of the rest of the world, the forces that conspire to repress straight cis women are also those that conspire against gay and trans people. Still, there is dissensus.

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Other attendees shouted in protest, and one, allegedly a trans woman, physically attacked a radical feminist. Afterward, Ni Una Menos issued a statement proposing that the next assembly adopt a motion to formalize what, the organization said, had been collectively agreed: that trans-exclusionary feminists not be given a platform at future meetings.

We owe them the movement, so their inclusion is really non-negotiable. e-mail address.

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