7 Layer Feminism: Why feminism should include social justice for all // Johanna Riojas, B.A.
In May of 2016, the Huffington Post released an article entitled 7 Smart Responses to the Not-So-Smart Arguments in Favor of the North Carolina bathroom laws. This article pointed out several flaws in the arguments against equal rights for individuals who identify as transgender to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. While the article was definitely well-versed and made several amazing points, I could not help but notice one thing was definitely missing: the idea that the laws created to discriminate against one group of people was using another oppressed group to do it.
One of the main recurring arguments I see for the argument of forcing individuals who identify as transgender to use the bathroom consistent with their assigned sex at birth is the idea that by not doing so, women are at a greater risk for sexual assault. Given that there have been reports from police officials indicating that predatory behavior does not increase in the presence of gender neutral bathrooms, I am going to go out on a limb to say that concerns for the safety of cis-gendered women are not the actual motivator behind these types of laws (Time, 2016).
But wait, let us assume for a moment that while the facts may be that there is not a real risk for the safety of cis-gendered women in gender neutral bathrooms, that the fear and concern are real. If that is the case, then I appreciate your concern about my safety, however, you are not focused on the right thing. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted on college campuses (3x more likely than non-college age women), in romantic relationships, and at work (National Center for Domestic Violence; RAINN; Time, 2016). We women have had a long history of being victimized across multiple domains and environments, but there is little if any evidence of violence from male to female transitioned individuals in our bathrooms. Men, if your concern is my safety, then I challenge you to devote your attention to the other areas in which my safety is actually a concern, because who uses my bathroom is not one of them.
Women, knowing the statistics, we can safely assume that our safety is not ultimately the rationale behind these laws that discriminate against an entire group of people. We are being made a scapegoat for the discrimination against an entire group of people, and this is not the first time it has happened. The oppression and criminalization of men of color has also used women – particularly white women – as a scapegoat. White women were seen as in need of protection from the “aggressive and animalistic” black men in the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Our current president described Mexican immigrants as rapists and then less than a month later was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by their genitalia against their will. Women, this is not about our safety, this is about the desire for our oppressors to remain on top by any means necessary. It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking our safety matters to them at the expense of basic human rights of others. Here is my call to white and cis-gendered women to include intersectionality into their feminism. March and fight for their rights just as easily as you march and fight for ours. Do not let our oppressors use us as a scapegoat for their discriminatory acts because it just gives them more tools to use against us later.
7 Smart Responses to the Not-So-Smart Arguments in Favor of the North Carolina Bathroom Laws – Elura Nanos - The Huffington Post