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‘Racism’ to want female-only spaces, gender studies researcher says

LGB group accused of ‘heteronormativity, racism and classism’

“Racism” is subtly present in the opposition to biological males showering in the same locker room as females, according to a gender studies researcher.

Oxford Brookes University researcher Helen Clarke made the argument in a recent paper for the Journal of Gender Studies.

“Gender-critical feminists” have made bathrooms, “changing rooms” and “other spaces” “contested grounds,” Clarke (pictured) wrote. These feminists “argue that some predatory men masquerade as women merely to access these spaces, requiring the exclusion of trans women to protect (cis) women’s safety.”

The British researcher particularly focused on a group called the LGB Alliance, which seeks to preserve female-only spaces.

“LGB Alliance can be read as (re)producing harmful discourses related to heteronormativity, racism and classism, [and] ultimately, hinder progress towards LGBTQ+ equality,” Clarke wrote.

She did not respond to two emailed requests for comment in the past three weeks that asked for more information about her arguments as well as reactions received.

While Clarke said the group “would strongly reject accusations of racism,” it still uses “political whiteness” as an activism tool.

The group’s “argumentation can be read as operating through a prism of white feminism, in which whiteness is recentred and the so-called ‘feminist’ values are upheld through a lens of white subjectivity,” she wrote.

The LGB Alliance’s view on sex reflects “racial/colonial science” — a model “through which only white bourgeois women could properly claim the category of womanhood, and black women’s bodies were denied socio-cultural worth,” she wrote.

Clarke criticized the use of typical female anatomy as a signal of someone’s true sex.

“By constructing ‘womanhood’ through visual codes influenced by white cultural norms and standards, and positioning ‘sex’ as the root cause of (cis) women’s oppression, LGB Alliance can be understood as recentring white women’s experiences, and marginalizing the lived realities of women of colour,” she said.

Clarke also said “for women of colour, white skin is an equal reminder of violence and oppression.”

The LGB Alliance did not respond to a request for comment on the paper. Kathleen Stock, a feminist who supports biological sex distinctions, also did not respond to a College Fix inquiry sent in the past several weeks.

The Independent Women’s Forum’s Jennifer Braceras explained why sex distinctions are important in comments to The Fix.

“In America, women and men are legally equal. But men and women possess unique and immutable biological differences that manifest prior to birth and increase as we age and experience puberty,” the IWF vice president for legal affairs said.

“Because of these differences, it makes sense to create single-sex spaces in certain situations that implicate safety and privacy are concerned,” Braceras said.

“Quite simply, the government should never force women to change or sleep in co-ed environments without their consent.”

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About the Author
Nathan Biller -- Colgate University