I have discussed the topic of rewilding many times previously, so if you are unaware of what is meant by the term “rewild,” perhaps read either Rewilding: A Radical Approach to Environmentalism? or Towards a Better Understanding of “Progress” first.
However, if you are already acquainted the community, you are well aware of the intense social justice movement that has been at the core of true rewilding. Rewilding groups have long since served to give indigenous peoples a valid voice, to help white people acknowledge their potentially racist views, to give women a stand, and to confront toxic masculinity. Seldom does one come across an anti-civ or anarcho-primitivist without also encountering radical feminism.
In other words, a large portion of rewilders or “hunter-gatherer wannabees,” are self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors…and proud of it. After all, racism, sexism, and classism are all problematic results of civilizations. These must therefore also be abolished, along with civilization itself.
The reality of many of these people, however, is that you’re unlikely to find a more ironically harmful sanctimonious group in any other area of activism. How? Let’s break this down.
More women are harmed than empowered
If you’re a victim of sexual assault or harassment, you might want to steer clear of these groups. They will frequently equate deforestation to rape, or virtually anything they deem harmful to rape. And content warnings? Ha. Women with PTSD have obviously never existed…especially not from rape! (sarcasm).
In addition, though well meaning, you will often be valued as a woman before being valued as an individual. For example, do you have some interesting point to add to a conversation that is irrelevant to gender? Prepare to hear “I appreciate the input of a woman” before you hear “I appreciate your unique perspective.” And if your gender is for some reason undisclosed, you can always increase the validity of any argument you make with “As a woman,” or “and this is coming from a woman!” despite the actual content of your argument.
Science is an enemy, conspiracies are valid.
While you might gain some respect as a scientist if you loudly and frequently remind everyone you’re a woman, you’ll still have a fair chance of being equated to a rapist man.
Any science relevant to medicine is automatically “Big Pharma” propaganda, any science relevant to the origin of humanity is probably racist colonial ideology, any science regarding nature is probably imposing on the spirits of wildlife and the spirituality of indigenous peoples.
Science is regularly condemned for sexism, animal cruelty, and racism. And while not all of these criticisms are invalid, the overwhelming proposed solutions are (i.e “fuck science.”)
There is also heavy use of cherry-picking, wherein problematic scientists from the (18)eighties are regularly cited as examples to the faults of science, but virtually no one takes note of up-to-date articles or analyzes currently active research facilities and practices. Essentially because there is an idea that any information we have on past scientists is 100% verifiable, but any information on modern science (or scientists) must inherently be false information meant to disguise the truth…that is, unless the information reveals more problematic practices or beliefs.
But mainly, I want to discuss one grievance I have in particular: Transphobia. And, not surprisingly, how it is hurting everyone.
First and foremost, supporting a minority group means supporting all of that group and not just those it is easy to support, not just those you agree with politically, not just those you’re friends with.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter how many Nazis you want to punch, you’re still not anti-racism if you blatantly refuse to address the fact that transwomen of color face some of the highest murder rates in predominately white nations. We’re only four months into 2017 and at least eight trans WoC have been murdered already.
You say Black Lives Matter. You update you profile picture to say that you stand with Standing Rock. You call out Stormfront. You address the growing white supremacy among Asatruar/heathens.
But I haven’t seen a single person outrage over these murders. In fact, I haven’t even seen anyone briefly mention any of these women.
Where’s your allyship now? Does the gender of these women somehow negate their skin color? I’d love to say something along the lines of “Please explain, I’ll wait” but if anything, I’ve learned from these various rewilding micro-communities that you can’t wait for hypocrites to address their own hypocrisy.
Let me know when you not only know what “DAPL” stands for, but who Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow was. Let me know when you not only know who Trayvon Martin was, but who Ciara Mcelveen was. Until then, fuck off because you’re still very much your average white person.
And yes, these rewilding communities tend to be primarily composed of cishet white men regardless of how socially progressive they claim to be or how humble they try to be. So I suppose you can only hope for so much when you think of a group of radical feminists founded and composed of the above.
Here, you’ll find assertions that there is more to a woman than tits and a vagina whilst transwomen are invalidated because of the genitalia they had at birth (regardless of whatever their physical anatomy may be currently, although this is irrelevant).
Here, you’ll find claims that gender is a social construct that results from patriarchy, alongside claims that transwomen cannot be women because of “biology” (which is an evil science anyway, right?)
Here, you’ll find criticisms of the illogical standards of beauty women have been held to, while gender non-conforming ciswomen are also criticized for not embracing their femininity (which has to look like dresses and makeup, according to some).
Here, you’ll see the “it doesn’t matter that she was raped and is someone’s mother/daughter/sister, because she is SOMEONE period” signs with commentary that includes how women are women because of motherhood and nurturing.
And in addition to the above, you’ll see transwomen invalidated because they cannot have children or breastfeed. As though infertile women are just men, as though women who have had to undergo hysterectomies are just men, as though women who have every right to have NO interest in mothering are just men.
You’ll find the literally just false idea that misogyny only ever affects ciswomen. And despite the large number of ciswomen who claim to have never experienced misogyny and don’t need feminism, these rewilders will say it applies to all women. Yet when a transwoman has tangibly experienced misogyny and pleads to be included in feminism, they will either cover their ears and eyes or go from radical feminist to misogynist themselves in less than five seconds.
Rewilding groups are meant to provide education and be a safe-space for minorities. But there is virtually no appeal. I, being an AFAB person, find no comfort among these people. I, being a victim of sexual assault, feel no safer around these people. And yet they have the audacity to claim to genuinely care for people like myself. Funny how that works.
Another significant complaint: Ableism
Science and scientists in general will be called “eugenicists” insultingly. Eugenics is bad, they say, because it has been used as a tool of racists. It isn’t just PoC who are targeted, but they’re evidently all who matters. In fact, a PoC (who had no photos of themselves, but asking for proof of their ethnicity would’ve been racist too), who was a member of one such group recently posted about “fake genders” that the eugenicist scientists were now recognizing. And yet, being queer was legitimately once considered a mental disorder. Trans people are still erroneously considered “mentally ill.” And the mentally disabled were one of, if not the primary target of eugenics. While the vast majority of people today wouldn’t dare suggest culling society of PoC, far more people are perfectly accepting of abortion of fetuses that may be born disabled (even if they’re otherwise aggressively pro-life) and of “putting down” or euthanizing mentally ill people. “Rehabilitation costs money, and extra care requires too much energy” is commonly held sentiment in regards to the existence of the disabled.
And as mentioned earlier, there are few accommodations for those who are neurodivergent. No content warnings on posts or discussions, and certainly no “trigger warnings.” No or few clarifications of sarcasm in case anyone involved lacks the ability to pick up on sarcasm and differentiate it from normal speech.
Oh yeah, along the lines of insensitivity to women who have been raped by the callous equation of environmental destruction to forcibly engaging in sex with an unwilling person there is the equation of civilization/industrialization being a product of collective mental illness or that the average person (who doesn’t want to leave civilization) suffers from psychosis.
One could also argue that the rewilding movement in and of itself is purely ableist due to its rejection of modern medicines that depend on industrial society, and what with how industrialization in medicine is part of what is keeping so many people alive at all. This is something I have seen briefly refuted once, but the idea is reasonably still there.
So in other words, these communities often don’t genuinely care about people per se, but rather their ideology and anyone they can use or exploit to further said ideology. If women see civilization as inherently patriarchal, they will further the movement. If more PoC want to return to “pre-contact” states of existence, they will further the movement. Trans people and disabled people simply don’t fit it here, they’re useless…or worse, a threat.
Although, there is a humorous aspect to all of this. Despite the numerous shitty people with shitty illogical opinions that tend to dominate these communities, queer people are still here. The otherly-abled are still here.
I’ve been, in various degrees of activity, involved in rewilding groups for about five years or so. I never once would have thought other trans people had any knowledge of the existence of this movement, let alone had any interest. I never once stumbled upon an openly trans person. It wasn’t until I became more active in trans support groups and trans-friendly spaces that I found others who had experiences with some of the same exact people I observed in these groups. In fact, I vaguely mentioned some transphobia I came across by one prominent member of the rewilding movement, and someone messaged me afterwards knowing exactly who I was vaguely referring to.
Trans people can be feminists.
Trans people can be radical environmentalists.
Trans people aren’t always white, and can experience racism.
Trans people can be a part of this movement, and have been, without many knowing. Many of these trans people I contacted later have actually worked with specific people in such groups and organizations, and yet I doubt that if any of these rewilders happen to read this, that they have been aware they’ve worked with trans people before.
So regardless of any passerby’s opinion on environmentalism, or social justice, or the existence of queer people….it is worth noting that many people in this particular group are in fact hypocritical and potentially dangerous. This isn’t an argument on the validity of the rewilding ideology or feminism, but merely an observation that the social justice involved therein is hardly social justice.
I previously mentioned in Why I Left the Wiccan Faith the concept of “breaking up” with a religion and why. This concept might also now have to apply to this rewilding subculture, as like a scientist (cue laughter), I change and grow with more information. And a lot of information is slowly raising up a red flag over these groups.