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Darren ‘Legally Female’ Merager, Wi Spa, and the ‘New’ Misogyny
Or, how “Wi” told you so
I’m very neutral, like non-binary, although I don’t like that word. I’m legally female. But I have facial hair. I have a penis. I have no breasts. I don’t have a feminine voice. I don’t wear makeup or dress up like a female. So imagine you’re a grocery store [clerk] and you’re bagging my groceries and you say, ‘Excuse me, sir…’ I mean, am I supposed to be offended? That’d be ridiculous. How would this person know? But technically, for legal terms, I am she/her. I put ‘female’ on my driver’s license. But I’ve had to struggle my whole life fitting into traditional society. […] I have heterosexual sex because my penis fits in a vagina. I don’t tell women I’m with that I’m transgender because that’s not my sex. So I’m not faking anything. Gender is internal, sex is external.
- Darren Merager, in Jeremy Lee Quinn and Jason McGahan, “EXCLUSIVE: Transgender Fugitive Who Spurred Wi Spa Riots Bares All,” Los Angeles, December 19, 2022
I always thought I don’t care how someone becomes a woman or a man; it does not matter to me. It is just part of their specificity, their uniqueness, like everyone else’s. Anybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman. […] Many transwomen [sic] just go around being women, who knew, and suddenly, we are supposed to care that they are using the women’s bathroom. There they are in the next stall with the door shut, and we’re supposed to feel threatened. I don’t. I don’t care. By now, I aggressively don’t care.
- Catharine A. MacKinnon, in “‘Harm Is Harm, Hello,’” On Century Avenue, March 9, 2015
The problem with this ‘LGBTQ people are dangerous for children’ thing is that it distracts from the real perpetrators. Stat after stat, study after study, proves that it is grown men targeting young girls. And, while TERFs and the far right are putting my face on Fox News, they’re obsessed with me, in my apartment, making videos, the real predators get away with everything. It’s almost like they don’t really care about children and that all these people are just bigots.
- Jeffrey Marsh, TikTok, December 28, 2022
Where were you in 2015 when Catharine A. MacKinnon said that “[a]nybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman”? I was completing high school, graduating in May 2015. I went to university and, like many people my age, was dull in that I mostly went along with “LGBTQ+” rhetoric. And, thinking back, I did not hesitate in thinking it was all fine and good at first. Indeed, I had been convinced that “queer” and “trans” presented merely the logical extension of decades of lesbian and gay rights activism. Looking back, I studied literature and was bright, for what it was worth, though I find my belief in “LGBTQ+” dogma like a blight. My story of believing in bullshit can be more detailed, but, long story short, I was like many bright young things my age: ignorant—and compliant due to my ignorance. Of course, there are older people who still believe in the same bullshit I did when I was more ignorant than I am now. They either are ignorant, which happens, or pretend to be ignorant for the reason of being rewarded for serving a new power elite. Either way, trouble comes out.
Many men, MacKinnon argues, just go around being “women,” and, “suddenly, we are supposed to care.” “There they are in the next stall with the door shut, and we’re supposed to feel threatened,” MacKinnon continues, adding, with emphasis, “I don’t. I don’t care. By now, I aggressively don’t care.” Though not directly related, MacKinnon’s remarks have come to mind when I read the recent Los Angeles magazine exclusive with Darren Merager. Merager has been known as the “transgender woman”—that is, the man—who exposed himself to women and girls at Wi Spa. At the time, the spa had in place an “Equal Access” policy. Based on a theoretically “gender-neutral” principle, this policy reads:
We at Wi Spa want everyone to experience our incredible spa experience. We also do not deny or restrict access to our facilities or services to any customer on the basis of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital status or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.
But what does the “gender-neutral” principle of “gender identity” result in? With the listing of “gender identity,” having any separate areas for the sexes becomes disputable by either men or women who demand access due to “gender identity.” Most reported cases involving the use of “gender identity” to seek access seem to be men using it to intrude on women. However, increasing numbers of women transitioning have meant a rise in women, particularly straight ones, seeking to intrude on gay men’s spaces as men do to women in general. There are parallels, though the former has a larger precedent, apart from being more pervasive, given men’s unchecked sexual entitlement to women’s bodies. In current politics, “gender identity” happens to be used to redefine sex in society. Therefore, the above “Equal Access” policy essentially mandates that any man can declare himself a “woman” and make use of female spaces, at his convenience. Women become inconveniences for men, and women who voice their concerns become even more of an inconvenience. This dynamic is how “gender identity” works in policymaking and legislation to undermine originally sex-based provisions for women and girls.
In “Liberalism and the Death of Feminism,” a speech delivered in 1987, MacKinnon herself objected to the “gender-neutral” endgame of “gender identity.” Abstractions of equality, she argued then, serve to uphold male dominance and female subordination. Here is a passage toward the beginning of the essay:
As we criticized male reality in this movement that was, we always looked for the prick in the piece. We found that abstractions were a coverup for the gendered reality that was really going on. On this basis, this movement produced a systematic, relentless, deeply materially based and empirically rigorous critique of the male-dominated reality of women’s lives and the glossy abstractions that made it seem not male-dominated. It uncovered, in this process, deep connections between race, class, and sexual oppression, and pursued them not as an afterthought, not as a footnote, not as a list, but because they were essential. This was a movement that said that every issue was a women’s issue and every place was a woman’s place.
Whatever happened to her? I have some thoughts. I happen to strongly favor MacKinnon’s analysis criticizing “glossy abstractions,” a critique echoing Andrea Dworkin’s earliest critiques of theory disconnected from life. I am wondering how MacKinnon has not “looked for the prick in the piece” when it comes to transgenderism and the ideology of “gender identity” produced by (male) sexuality. We must ask ourselves why. To one who looks for the prick in the piece, transgenderism would be too easy to miss, being all prick and no peace. “Gender neutrality,” MacKinnon said, “means that you cannot take gender into account, you cannot recognize, as we once knew we had to, that neutrality enforces a non-neutral status quo.” At the end of this speech, MacKinnon challenges women to “think about how, against all odds, against history, against all the evidence, we can create—invent—a sex-based hope.” Where did this analysis go, that MacKinnon transitioned from the above to saying that any man who goes around “being a woman”—whatever this ontology means—is a woman? Abstract to its core, “gender identity” rests on a form of ontological theft where the being of one sex becomes assumed to be possessed by the other. “Gender identity” functions as part of what MacKinnon calls “a coverup for the gendered reality” that trans ideology very selectively accepts, when convenient, yet mostly denies, mistakenly, as “essentialism” and “determinism.”
In Merager’s case, we have a man who is “legally female,” but who is very clearly male. “I’m a white guy with long, blond hair!” Merager exclaims. He has facial hair (which some women do), he has a penis (which no women do), and he has “no breasts” (not large ones, anyway). He neither has a feminine voice, which most adult men do not have anyway, nor wears makeup or dresses in a stereotypically feminine way. Neither synthetic hormones nor surgical intervention have been part of his “transition”—and, in fact, he dislikes the word “transitioning.”
What does “going around being a woman” look like for Merager? In another piece in Los Angeles magazine, he is described as six-foot-two and 200 pounds, noting that “until recently Merager was identifying as a male, at least according to acquaintances.” So, a man literally just started calling himself a “woman.” Jay Nieto, one of Merager’s former associates, describes him as follows:
He was masculine. A normal dude, hair in a ponytail, well-dressed in a shirt and tie or in sweats with Rolexes and a gold bracelet—the tasteful kind that isn’t too showy and looks expensive. And he could talk his way out of anything.
That Merager can “talk his way out of anything” seems particularly interesting, given how manipulative he has been in framing himself as the victim. Essentially, Merager is simply a man who has the designation “legally female” on his legal documentation. Transgender activism has produced the current social and political climate where Merager’s status as “legally female” has become enforced on women and girls, at their expense.
Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, the largest trans-led organization in L.A., commented on Merager, saying: “You’d think after getting arrested a bunch of times, she’d just change clothes in a stall.” On this other trans-identified male, who happens to pass,” Merager says:
So, in the article, she [sic] says she [sic] goes to Wi Spa three times a year and she [sic] gets naked in there and she [sic] never has a problem. So I spoke to Bamby Salcedo on the phone before the story came out. She [sic] admitted to me that she [sic] has boobs and she [sic] takes off her [sic] top but that she [sic] does not take off her [sic] bottoms because she [sic] has a penis. Nobody knows she’s [sic] transgender. […] We can go into that, but if she’s [sic] surgically [altered] parts of her [sic] body, that’s transsexual. I know that’s a controversy in and of itself, but I can explain that. […] You have to understand gender identity. Everybody’s confusing your internal with your external. All these external people are doing what is being called transitioning. There’s no transition. That’s called deviation. I’m tired of that word, ‘transitioning.’ It’s a fake word that people like Bamby use. The whole point is this is how you are born.
Frankly, I do not care about the discussion around whether people “pass” or not. The cosmetic changes being made to people’s bodies have contributed more to this issue than many wish to acknowledge. Sex-based provisions remain necessary, despite a feminine man with breast augmentation “passing” as a “woman.” Radical cosmetic changes to the surface, otherwise superficial alterations, have been used to argue for the mutability of sex at the deeper level, which is wrong. Interestingly, Merager draws a sharp distinction between “transsexual” and “transgender.” To him, being “transsexual” involves what he calls “deviation,” changing the body surgically from how one is born to how one desires to be seen by others. However, the latter seems to be an undefinable internal state of simply being “transgender”—without any cosmetic changes. The word “altered” is in brackets, so one may wonder if the editor replaced another word—such as “mutilation” from Merager’s response.
When asked if he has considered just changing clothes in a stall or wearing a bathing suit, Merager replied:
It’s not for me to adapt to society at this point. Even if it’s the polite thing to do or you want me to or there’s a controversy or whatever, if nobody else is using a shower curtain or nobody else is using a swimsuit, it’s illegal to try and make me do it. Technically, and from all perspectives, I am female, and everybody agrees with that. We’re all on equal grounds under the law.
But we are not “all on equal grounds under the law.” Here we see the logic of the metaphysical woman in a man’s head as the ontological woman that he claims to be. A man asserts, “I am female.” By virtue of this assertion of being female, which conforms to his desire, this man must be seen as female. Thus, Merager's claim to womanhood cannot be questioned any more than Salcedo’s. Woman becomes man’s sexual and intellectual property in this paradigm, the object to be possessed by the subject. Man’s self-definition here comes at him seizing woman’s definition of self.
What crimes did Merager commit before the accusations made of him exposing himself to women and girls? Here is him talking about one thing he did:
So what happened was this elderly man got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and his bathroom overlooks another yard [and he saw me masturbating]. But even if it was masturbation, I don’t have a problem with that because that’s not illegal. It’s only illegal if you’re masturbating in someone’s face, like George Michael.
What is most interesting here is the part saying the illegality only happens “if you’re masturbating in someone’s face.” Imagine this defense in a courtroom. It would not be inconceivable for a man to argue it, since Merager has one absurdity on his side: being classified as “legally female.”
Popular responses to the Wi Spa incident have featured many prominent trans activists and trans allies making asses of themselves.
Detached from reality, the schizophrenic left believes there are white nationalists around every corner, but it dismisses male sexual predation as “moral panic.” It believes white men are, somehow, always suspicious, but a white man would never abuse policies like those Darren Merager, a white man, has abused. These ideologues can publish numerous articles about Merager being a “trans woman” unjustly discriminated against over “gender identity.” Again, nobody can actually quantify how he differs from any other man, except his word. The next moment, one of the Antifa types at the Wi Spa protests reacted to Merager’s presence by saying he must be a “Proud Boy,” not “one of us.” This new left seems both paranoid and gullible, selectively moral and strategically ignorant, caught in a constant identity crisis.
So what has made so many people defend male sexual entitlement like never before? It all goes back to misrepresentation, particularly willful misrepresentation. If people become convinced men violating women’s boundaries have the human right to do so, then indignities to women and girls follow. But why has a so-called modern “human rights” movement resorted to lies and misrepresentations? I think it has to do with the fact they have no logical argument other than saying, “Because I said so.” Is Darren Merager’s claim to being “legally female” defensible from the point of view of transgender activism? If so, then what does it mean? How can one prove Merager is really “trans” beyond his word—and the state’s acceptance of him as “legally female”? Based on the reporting from supporters of “trans rights,” Merager’s claim to being a “trans woman” seems perfectly consistent with modern transgender activism. Calling him an “alleged trans person,” as trans ideologues conveniently do, makes no sense. His claim of the identity is the basis for the identity. There is no objective measure of truth being applied to this most subjective thing. Boundaries have been declared “hegemonic,” especially those for women, which has produced a hegemony of sexual entitlement, especially among men. To quote MacKinnon, from “On Collaboration,” a 1985 speech:
I really want you to stop your lies and misrepresentations of our position. I want you to do something about your thundering ignorance about the way women are treated. I want you to remember your own lives. I also really want you on our side. But, failing that, I want you to stop claiming that your liberalism, with its elitism, and your Freudianism, with its sexualized misogyny, has anything in common with feminism.
Certainly not ignorant about radical feminism and the contradictions of liberalism, MacKinnon has chosen a peculiar side. She now casts her lot with men like Julia Serano, who compare actual feminists concerned about the safety and wellbeing of women and girls to racial segregationists (Serano’s linked Medium article is a good example of how he “reads” studies). How can she truly believe “[a]nybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman”? I cannot understand why MacKinnon would collaborate with men, especially some of the most deeply misogynistic ones, in this way. And so I have a few things which I want that are not extreme by any means.
Speaking of the likes of MacKinnon and Serano, I really want them to stop their lies and misrepresentations of our position. I want them to do something about their ignorance about women’s subordination not only in public but also in private. Does MacKinnon respond with aggressive indifference to increasing numbers of male prisoners being placed into female prisons? I want the collaborators, particularly MacKinnon, to remember their own lives. For Serano, given his denialism that males persist with a male-pattern criminality regardless of “gender identity,” he will continue being a denialist. While I would like MacKinnon on our side, I understand certain unaddressed issues have split not only her but also women like her from us. How is “I aggressively don’t care” a radical feminist response to women’s concerns about single-sex provisions? MacKinnon is not rare among so-called “progressives,” especially women, who have been fooled by the “new” misogyny. With its elitism and its solipsism, liberalism reigns, but transgenderism has become the source of a “new,” or reconfigured, sexualized misogyny.
Men like Darren Merager get off to violating women’s boundaries, as transgression sexually excites them. The act of intrusion marks an essential component in male “gender expression” for men whose sexuality appears built on subordinating women. “What is called ‘inclusive’ for men,” Genevieve Gluck writes, “is intrusive for women.” Intrusion has become the basis of the social relations between the sexes, where men intrude on women. Pornography embodies and markets this reality as fantasy; transgenderism facilitates and manufactures this fantasy as reality. As MacKinnon writes, “We live in a society in which intrusion on women is the definition of sex, and the pornographers practice and promote it.” How, then, does MacKinnon truly rationalize her support for a movement against women’s dignity that makes womanhood into a marketable commodity that men can buy and sell? We can say that “Wi” told you so, too. Who knew that defending a white heterosexual male sex offender was not only “anti-fascist” but also “feminist”? Welcome to the twenty-first century, where doublethink threatens human dignity and where human rights are the new afterthought to ideologies of the self.
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