Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off Our Backs or Out Of Business?

I just found out from The F Word that the venerable bastion of transphobic, biphobic and ablist writing that is "Off Our Backs" may soon have to stop publishing due to financial problems.

Personally, I am absolutely delighted at the possibility of hearing that the death knell might soon be sounding for "Off Our Backs". In almost every transphobic theory, there's also a great big dose of ablism to go with it and oftentimes there a bunch of classist assumptions, too.

Off Our Backs could easily accomplish the positive things it had to offer without de-legitimizing so many women's lives and experiences. Maybe, just maybe, if they hadn't alienated so many women, there would still be more people interested in keeping it alive. I don't have a lot of funds to send to all of the organizations that I admire, so I'd rather support those that don't actively work against the other things I believe in.

I can't wait to pull out the PatrĂ³n and have a nice toast to its end. May it come sooner than later!


Lisa Harney said...

Yeah, I think I was too nice too OOB in my first response on The F Word.

I'm really annoyed that the question of whether people like me deserve to be treated like human beings is a distraction from the real issue - that some of the women who believe that people like me shouldn't be treated like human beings are going to lose their magazine.

Many of the articles at Questioning Transgender were initially published in Off Our Backs.

Lisa Harney said...

I came across this bit of a letters page from OOB.

The transphobic stuff starts on page 2 and continues to page 4. The editor responds:

"In our book, Dykes-LovingDykes, we wrote in more detail about the issue of "MTFs" oppressing Lesbians as well as other issues harming Lesbians & our communities. Any Lesbians who are interested in getting our book can send a SASE to: [address removed].

criticisms on target"

And this bit from the letter itself:

"As an oppressed people, we have the right to have our own space away from our oppressors. Very little female-only space is left & there is even less Lesbian-only space. Men, including "MTFs," have more privileges than Lesbians & more places in the world where they are welcome. Females are trained to always put males first. Supporters of "MTFs" should remember that & stop trying to force males on us against our wills."


Daisy said...

I have to disagree... it was one of the veritable feminist "lights in the darkness" during my youth. It said to me, you do not have to wear high heels, and fuck them. So, I have an emotional attachment, like I had when they closed Woolworth's or Kresge's (both of which I shopped in as a kid, and then worked in later as a teenager). I hate to see it happen, would prefer a rebirth and transformation, but I know how unlikely that is.

I wish a different faction had taken over. I blame Carol Anne Douglas, who mostly kept the paper going in the depths of the Reagan Era... as a professor, the women she eventually attracted to regroup the newspaper were women who shared her transphobic views. Since the paper was headquartered in DC (to cover the govt and the ERA, etc) it necessarily meant that the staff had a high turnover, since many were simply attending colleges in the area.

So, she was the sole survivor and the staff reflected her own social circle, unfortunately.

bint alshamsa said...

I remember Woolworth's, too. I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I craved their donuts all the time.

With regards to Off Our Backs, I think that a clean start would be better because, now, it has this years-long history of bigotry that I don't believe can be shaken off. Because that's the direction it was taken in, it will be forever associated with hatred of the worst kinds.

I wish there was some way of erasing the years of damage they've done but I don't even see them trying to do that, so I'd rather see them gone.

I'm glad, though, that when you were young, you did find what you needed in order to free you from those constricting roles. I want every woman to have that instead of having their identity de-legitimized.

Daisy said...

Bint, very well said, and I agree.

Carol Anne Douglas' book on feminist theory (titled Love and Politics: Radical Feminist and Lesbian Theories) shamefully did not even mention transwomen AT ALL.

(((spits for emphasis)))

Lisa Harney said...

Daisy, that's why I don't want to celebrate OOB going away - they (and Lesbian Connection, for that matter) were among my first introductions to actual feminism, and I learned much.

But four of the articles on "Questioning Transgender Politics" debuted there - three in one issue and one less than a year later. I found at least two transphobic letters published but never found a letter refuting those articles or the letters. I found one article about trans women - about three women who were murdered in Washington DC, and I'm grateful they got the word out on that, but it wasn't a lot.

I skimmed past a lot of articles about disability and women of color, though - I don't know how good or bad they were, as I was trying to find specifics, and I gave up on the blog post I was writing before I went back to check their record on WoC and disability.

belledame222 said...

Maybe, just maybe, if they hadn't alienated so many women, there would still be more people interested in keeping it alive.


and you know, to everything there is a season, etc. etc. hey, "On Our Backs" is dead, too, Jim. can't say I'm sorrier about oob, and I didn't really do much about OOB except say, "well, shit, that sucks."