Is there a unique "biological oppression" for XX people?

Submitted by thoughts in Feminism

There are unique struggles due to menstruation, physical vulnerabilities, weakness, and birthing that XX people experience which no one else does.

Would you define this as a sort of biological oppression? Do you have recommendations of material that appropriately addresses it?

I ask this because I'm just learning about the particulars feminism. My SO brought up that they feel they experience a biological oppression as an XX person. It made me wonder if there are good (non-TERF) feminist materials or literature so I can understand more about it.

Thanks for any guidance :)


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bloodrose wrote

I think women experience the pains of biology because we are oppressed, not because they are oppressive. When I was pregnant, I was shocked by the amount of pain I was expected to endure. It was called "the discomforts of pregnancy" and how little notice I was given that it was going to happen (apparently, carpal-tunnel is a well known pregnancy issue that literally no one told me about while I was trying to get pregnant). A lot of it was perfectly treatable in ways that do not harm the child. But doctors repeatedly acted as if I was being hysterical about the pain rather than recognizing my agency. Were the non-oppressed gender the one who gave birth, pain would be adequately treated. There would be more time off for pregnancy, child birth and child-rearing.

A prime real-life proof of this is the male birth control pill vs. the female birth control pill. The male pill never came to market because in human trials, men experienced weight gain and mood swings. Women are practically expected to take the pill (my gyno is shocked that I don't and constantly tried to push it on me) despite it causing those side effects and more. Further, when it first came to market it was so so so much worse. Infertility was a real side-effect. Yeah, permanent effects. So, the oppressed class must endure horrible things to control their biology, but the non-oppressed doesn't.


BunnyBop wrote (edited )

I'm not sure you're going to find many, if any, non-terf sources on "biological oppression". Pretty much any mention of it I've seen have been used to try to silence trans women or imply that they're not really women. Not all XX people experience what you've mentioned as struggles, btw. Intersex people with XX chromosomes exist that can't do those things and I'm pretty sure there are people with Y chromosomes who experience at least some of those things.


gone wrote

BunnyBop, could you quickly define "non-terf" for me if you have the time? I have language issues and don't want to waste thoughts' time, much less accidentally hurt anyone with my ignorance before I have a chance to learn how to do better.


malifica wrote

TERF is an acronym for "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists." In this case, "non-terf" simply refers to sources that aren't transphobic.


gone wrote

Much obliged.

thoughts, I'm afraid most of what I probably saved was TERF so the best I could do was my own possibly irrelevant words.


BunnyBop wrote (edited )

Non-terf would refer to someome who is not a trans exclusionary radical feminist. Someone who believes trans women are real women and trans men are real men, ect. Terfs believe trans women oppress cis women, so a non-terf wouldn't believe that.


gone wrote

Yes, there is a different experience for XX persons.

Bloodrose's experience of hospital birth is considered normal in our society and my own out-of-hospital births are considered abberations and quite possibly abuse and/or neglect. I have been SWATted for strong opinions about circumcision, which most childless people would find a "silly mommy warz issue" rather than a human rights issue.

Nobody ever SWATted me for FNB or #Occupy.

I lost an infant to the courts. My mother lost an infant to the Baby Scoop Era (link below under the title "Adoption is a Feminist Issue"). We are mammals and have the same chemicals in our bodies as mother bears do when their cubs are threatened and mother dogs do when their less-than-profitable litters are destroyed.

I do not feel oppressed by biology itself, but I am aware of the fact that my biology is used to oppress me. Of course I'm not saying that you aren't a "real" woman if you don't have a uterus, I'm just saying that I never felt like a real woman until I used those body parts to reproduce instead of to provide sexual services for partners or profit.

What's really going to sound crazy to my trans sisters is that I grieve for the fact that you can never experience normal mammalian biological reproduction even though the vast majority my cis sisters can't either.

I'll see if I can dig anything relevant up from my RadFem days in 2006ish, but I think most of us who can remember when excluding transgirls from feminist spaces like Michfest and the old Ms boards was something to debate about are just glad that's behind us now.


Tequila_Wolf wrote

From the f/Trans sidebar article

Sex is no more an immutable binary than is gender. There are intersex people who are born with non-binary genitalia, as I have already mentioned. There are people with hormonal anomalies. In fact, hormone levels vary wildly within the categories of cis male and cis female. Chromosomes, too, vary. If you thought “XX” and “XY” were the only two possible combinations, you have some serious googling to do. In addition to variations like XXY, XXYY, or X, sometimes cis people find out that they are genetically the “opposite” of what they though they were– that is, a ‘typical’ cis man can be XX, a ‘normal’ cis woman can be XY.

The fact is that the concept of binary sex is based on the fallacious idea that multiple sex characteristics are immutable and must always go together, when in fact many of them can be changed, many erased, and many appear independently in different combinations. “Female” in sex binary terms means having breasts, having a vagina, having a womb, not having a lot of body hair, having a high-pitched voice, having lots of estrogen, having a period, having XX chromosomes. “Male” means having a penis, not having breasts, producing sperm, having body hair, having a deep voice, having lots of testosterone, having XY chromosomes. Yet it is possible to isolate, alter, and remove many of these traits. Many of these traits do not always appear together, and before puberty and after menopause, many of them do not apply.

And what about women who get hysterectomies? Or who have had mastectomies for reasons related to breast cancer? Are they not women?