In which I fail at technology for 10 minutes and consequently only participate in the last 20 minutes of the conversation.
And here’s the transcript, courtesy of
In which I fail at technology for 10 minutes and consequently only participate in the last 20 minutes of the conversation.
And here’s the transcript, courtesy of
…and by “interesting” I mean that I’ve personally not run into it before, and that it’s actually one that deserves dissection rather than merely being laughed out of the room for sheer dumbosity. Somewhat unfortunately, this post has been incubating in my brain for so long that the blog in which I originally found the comments (No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz) seems to have moved to a new host, and now I can’t find anything there. So, this will be written from memory and therefore I can’t guarantee the full accuracy of the examples used to support the MRA’s talking point.
Anyway, the argument goes as follows:
We know that women have a higher status than men because women who “descend” into masculinity are tolerated , but men who are trying to do things “above their station” and adopt feminine things/behaviors are punished*; this is similar to the way rich people can affect the “ghetto” look and be cool, while poor people affecting upper class style and behavior are posers and fakes**; or similar to the way blackface is cool, but a black person trying to “pass” for a white one is considered to be transgressing.
The reason I find this argument interesting is because at first glance, that kinda sorta makes sense. Privileged people have more freedoms, and one of them is to appropriate things from the oppressed classes. Cultural appropriation for example is a huge problem with imperialism/colonialism/white culture***. But a closer analysis of the two claims in this argument makes it clear that that’s not quite how it works. So, let’s have a closer look at these claims:
1)The oppressors are permitted to be like the oppressed
This is only superficially true. As I mentioned, affecting and appropriating things that culturally belong to oppressed groups is certainly quite common. But there are “rules” about how you’re supposed to do that. For example, there’s a difference between appropriating/devaluing and adopting/supporting someone else’s oppressed identity. Wearing a hipster headdress is not the same as “decolonizing” and becoming involved in Native culture and society as an ally and/or as a spouse and parent to tribal members; donning blackface is not the same as becoming a student and promoter of Critical Race Theory; dressing up as a woman for Halloween, for a comedy show, or for a pride parade is not the same as living as a trans woman; and I’m willing to bet affecting a lower-class accent is not the same as abandoning your upper-class social ties and becoming a miner and moving to a working-class neighborhood. Point being, it’s ok to mock and play pretend, but it’s absolutely not ok to actually become part of, or a supporter of, the oppressed group. And in many ways, this can be seen by how the privileged classes define themselves, which is often by what they are not****. For example, pale skin was a sign of nobility when it meant that you were not a peasant; and then the Industrial Revolution happened, labor moved indoors, and suddenly suntanning became a sign of not being working class. Another example is Upper Class Etiquette (AKA “being classy”), which is basically an elaborate set of completely superfluous rules designed specifically as an artificial Upper Class Habitus setting the Upper Classes apart from the lower classes; and, sure, you can occasionally adopt what you think is a lower-class habitus, but only when it’s kinda obvious that it’s for shits and giggles; otherwise, it may well be perceived as a giant faux pas. A third, and probably the best-known example, is the one drop rule: whiteness being treated as such an endangered commodity that a single drop of black blood contaminated it permanently and made you non-white. Masculinity works much the same way, i.e. it identifies itself as what it is not, i.e. feminine. That’s why enforcement of transgressions out of masculinity and into femininity exist: they threaten the established hierarchy, and unlike in the cases of racism and classism, there isn’t even an equivalent ideology in the broader culture equivalent to “colorblindness” or “meritocracy” that would temper old-fashioned***** gender-policing the same way it sometimes does temper old-fashioned race- and class-policing.
2)The oppressed are forbidden from being like the oppressors
It is true that in order to properly maintain a hierarchy, it’s necessary to make sure the oppressed don’t just weasel out by becoming or passing for the oppressor. Further, since I just explained that the oppressor group often defines itself by what it is not, making sure that the oppressed don’t start doing oppressor-stuff is a way of preserving for oneself the permission to do these things#. However, internalized oppression and the hierarchy itself make it so that the stuff that “belongs” to the oppressor is seen as good, moral, “classy”, etc. while the stuff that “belongs” or identifies the oppressed groups is seen as inferior. Consequently, internal hierarchies within oppressed groups emerge, which state that even while being in the oppressed group, it’s “better” (more moral, more civilized, more normal, etc.) to be more like the oppressor and shun/abandon those things that mark one as a member of the oppressed class. Colorism is one such example, in which lighter skin color is higher in a racial hierarchy than darker skin, even among people of color themselves; similarly, African-Americans who have internalized a white habitus are considered more cultured than those who have a habitus associated with an African-American subculture (it’s probably not a coincidence that the first black president of the US is a biracial man raised by white people. Or, as Joe Biden noted is his typical foot-in-mouth kind of way: a “mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”). Another one is the “normal gay” and “flamboyant gay” bullshit: gay men who are otherwise performing masculinity are seen as better, i.e. higher up on the hierarchy, than gay men who are seen to share more “feminine” attributes than just being attracted to men (incidentally, this is also where the weird thing about how it’s not “gay” to receive a blowjob from a man comes from: receiving blowjobs = manly, while giving blowjobs = womanly; and gay = womanly)##. In the trans community, this internal (self-)oppression based on how closely someone manages to conform to cisnormative and heteronormative rules is called the Harry Benjamin Syndrome.
And exactly the same happens to gender-roles. Because men are higher in the hierarchy, masculine things have higher status, whereas feminine things have lower status. The consequence? Femmephobia: the belief that feminine self-expression and things associated with femininity are inherently less good, moral, fun, valuable, etc. than masculine self-expression and things associated with masculinity. This is why women who do traditionally masculine things can sometimes be perceived as being “better” than those doing traditionally feminine things.
It should be noted that a lot of this “it’s better to be like the oppressor” stuff is a symptom of a transitional culture: in a static hierarchy, “upward mobility” of this kind is strictly punishable and control and suppresion of it seen as absolutely necessary for the survival of society. When it occurs within segregated minority communities, it’s only tolerated insofar as it’s invisible (or useful in a divide-and-conquer sort of way) to the oppressor group; the moment it spills out into the “mainstream” (read: the oppressor-dominated culture), it will be swiftly punished. In a transitional culture on the other hand, the oppressor culture becomes a “norm” and “ideal” that becomes a requirement for acceptance into a supposedly egalitarian/democratic/colorblind/whathaveyou mainstream. And when these two aspects clash, you get the faliliar Catch-22 that is being a member of an oppressed group: if you act in ways identified as belonging to your group, you’ll be shat on because of the low status of those social signifiers; if you instead act in ways identified with the oppressor group, you’ll be perceived as “uppity”, bitchy, a trap, a poser, etc., unless you somehow manage to do this while also helping maintain the hierarchy. See also “not like other women” and “model minority”.
So, to sum it up: oppressors are only allowed to appropriate oppressed-group-signifiers for the purpose of mockery and “play”, but not actually adopt them in any meaningful way; conversely, in transitional cultures with delusions of egalitarian ideals, the hierarchy itself mandates that acceptance into the “mainstream” requires emulation of the oppressor class on behalf of the oppressed. Therefore, the fact that women wearing pants is cool, but men wearing skirts is not isn’t a sign that women are the oppressor class; it’s a sign that masculinity has higher-status than femininity, and that we’re in a transitional culture which both enforces the masculinity-over-femininity hierarchy and uses the language of meritocracy and equality, thus basically saying that women have the right to abandon their shitty, feminine qualities and exchange them for the better, more masculine ones, while at the same time assigning lower status to anyone choosing to be more feminine than masculine###.
Conclusion: another MRA being wrong, albeit more creatively and cleverly than usual.
P.S.:I apologize for the ridiculous amount of footnotes. The topic got away from me a few too many times, and there’s entirely too many tangents kinda-sorta-relevant to this topic.
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*women wearing pants vs. men wearing skirts; the fact that trans men face less violence than trans women; etc.
**to use my own example of this, take for example British class consciousness. It’s kinda fashionable for upper class Brits to affect lower-class accents; OTOH, someone from a lower class background trying to affect an upper class accent could be interpreted as uppity, fake, a poser etc. Also, from what I understand, there’s also a thing among younger folks of “dropping” aristocratic titles to be cool; but you’d get your ass handed to you if you instead wanted to take one on when you don’t have one. So, down-classing yourself = cool; up-classing yourself = punishable
***for example, here’s an entire excellent blog about appropriations of Native American culture by whites, especially by hipster culture: Native Appropriations
****that’s actually one of the identifying characteristics of being a privileged group: being the default, the un-modified state; being defined in common language as that which lacks distinguishing characteristics. That’s why “ethnic” never refers to WASPs, even though that’s technically a kind of ethnicity, and a human figure lacking secondary (or tertiary) sexual characteristics is interpreted as male.
*****”old-fashioned” vs. “modern” bigotry is a discussion in and of itself, but basically it’s the difference between being a blatantly prejudiced and discriminatory bigot (what we traditionally call “a racist”, “a misogynist” etc.) and someone who perpetrates microaggressions. Don’t know where dogwhistles fall here; probably the former masquerading as the latter
#and actually, it just occurred to me that of course appropriation is a way to allow the oppressor-group to do oppressed-people-stuff without losing their status and identity: Pat Boone’s career is in fact based entirely on this principle.
##the issue with “lipstic lesbians” vs. butch lesbians doesn’t neatly fit here because of the intersectional nature of it: on the one hand, feminine lesbians are considered “straighter” and more gender-role-conforming than butch lesbians, and thus are rewarded for that; on the other, femmephobia means that a feminine form of self-expression is considered lower-status than a masculine AKA butch one.
###while simultaneously still enforcing the old gender-roles. this intersectionality means that gender-non-conforming cis women and gender-non-conforming cis men both end up suffering along two axes of oppression while being in the oppressor category on one; and it’s also this intersectionality that synergistically ends up super-shitty for trans women, because they suffer from femmephobia (pretty much regardless of how butch their self-expression; but femme trans women tend to get more of this), gender-non-conformity (when they’re treated as supergay or superfeminine men), and misogyny.
The NYT has published an article bemoaning inequality; which would be great if it didn’t basically amount to: “if those silly women would just marry, most of their problems would go away”.
Mind you, I don’t dispute that unmarried women are generally hit worse by the ravages of the US economy (and incidentally, so are single fathers), nor that being unmarried seems to cluster in economically poorer social strata. However, the article is being ignorant and/or dismissive of systemic problems it even mentions (that dropping out of college tends to result in lower income; that having inadequate and expensive child-care makes things worse for those who need it more often; that hourly workers are massively underpaid in the US; that workers can’t get paid sick-leave even for severe injuries/recovery from surgery; that in the US, extra-curricular activities for kids cost and arm and a leg, and due to lack of safe public transportation, require a parent who can shuttle said kids to said activities; etc.), in favor of pointless hand-wringing about moral decay, lack of “marriageable men” in lower economic strata*, and other similarly moralistic complaints.
It uses such deeply problematic lines** as “their odds were not particularly good: nearly half the unmarried parents living together at a child’s birth split up within five years, according to Child Trends” to imply that if only people married right away, things would get better; as if it weren’t equally well-known that single-parenthood is actually healthier than the sort of extremely conflict-ridden marriages that would have resulted if all those couples that had split up had married instead and had insisted on “staying married for the children”. Bonus for whining about “children from multiple men”, despite the utter insignificance of that to the issue at hand; after all, being a single mother because one dude left you is not objectively better than being a single mother because several of them did (and I’m NOT touching a couple other possible reasons why a woman might have children by multiple men).
Another doozy: “Forty years ago, the top and middle income thirds had virtually identical family patterns”. Well that’s nice. 40 years ago, unions weren’t almost dead yet, minimum wage was higher, economic exploitation of workers was less, education was cheaper. All of this is far more relevant than whether people are married. And I know this because Sweden has a marriage rate lower, and an out-of-wedlock childbirth rate higher than the USA, and yet, inequality is low and children aren’t “doomed” to anything. Trying to guilt-trip women about their single-parent status by blaming their poverty on their singleness is pure, unadulterated bullshit.
Anyway, the article keeps on mentioning class and educational differences at childbirth, but it insists on focusing on marriage instead of getting women educated and providing better childcare services and worker protections. Why? Because writing about responsible social policy is a snooze compared to slut-shaming; which is why we get conclusions like this: “That is the essence of the story of Ms. Faulkner and Ms. Schairer. What most separates them is not the impact of globalization on their wages but a 6-foot-8-inch man named Kevin”, when in reality what separates them is that one has a college education and a salaried job, while the other is an hourly worker with a community college degree; and a special needs child.
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*Classism and promotion of toxic masculinity FTL.
**Another favorite: “Ms. Schairer has trouble explaining, even to herself, why she stayed so long with a man who she said earned little, berated her often and did no parenting.” Hm. Might that ‘why’ have something to do with the kind of “single motherhood = teh ebil” atmosphere that makes women cling to seriously flawed men because the alternative seems even worse?***
***And since I’m quoting depressing signs of sexism making people’s lives harder, read this exchange and weep:
“I’m not the only boy anymore; we’re going to do boy stuff!” Ms. Schairer recounts him saying.
“What’s boy stuff?” she asked.
“We’re going to play video games and shoot Nerf guns and play Legos,” he said.
“We do that now,” she said.
“Yeah, but you’re not a boy,” he said.
This is how Paula Kirby tweeted about her essay* in re: the Harassment Policy discussion:
I’ll wait until you’re done laughing and/or rolling your eyes.
Done? Alright, let’s get on with this blogpost**. And btw., I’m ridiculously late to the game. Others have competently dismantled large parts of that ridiculous essay about Teh Ebil #FTBullies, but there’s just so much incredibly ignorant and untrue crap in this essay, I figure I’ll have a stab at it, too. But do read the other commentary on it, if you have time. Like I said, there’s so much crap in this, a single essay doesn’t do it justice: atheist logic, Ophelia Benson pt. 1, pt. 2, and SUIRAUQA (there’s probably more, but those are the ones I know about)
First, since I gather this has touched a nerve in some quarters, I shall deal with the terms “feminazi” and “femistasi”. As a general principle, I oppose the use of any kin dof name-calling. But sometimes an apparently rude term is doing more than being rude: it is conveying a meaningful point in shorthand form. For the record, I am categorically NOT suggesting that the people I have applied these terms to are, in fact, Nazis or Stasi members, or would ever have sympathized with either of them.There are many of us who are proud to be called Grammarnazis and who know perfectly well that no aspersions are being cast on our intentions towards either Jews or Poland. It might be considered distasteful that the suffix -nazi has come to be used simply to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, but nevertheless, it has come to be so used, and The Sisterhood of the Oppressed cannot legitimately chalk it up as yet another example of their alleged victimization.
This is the first paragraph of the essay, and it’s already complete crap. And here’s why:
1)To be “proud to be called Grammarnazis”, and even to refer to oneself like that, is an act of Reappropriation; something that was used as an insult to try to shut someone up by making them feel bad for doing what they do by calling them -nazis is now being worn proudly as a banner, in a way similar to the way the Queer community has reapppropriated the term “queer”. And, in fact, in exactly the same way that many of Teh Ebil #FTBullies have for years now worn the worst epithets thrown at them as titles behind their handles, including the word “feminazi”.
2)A reappropriated word is still an insult/slur though, and so when it is used negatively against someone else, it is not used in the reappropriated, positive (or at least, non-negative) sense, but in its original, negative sense. Therefore, comparing being proud to be called a Grammarnazi to calling someone else a Feminazi in order to compare them to Nazis*** is worse than comparing apples to oranges (at least, apples and oranges are both fruit, and are both good for you).
3)The main difference, of course, between something like “Grammarnazi” and “Feminazi” or “Queer” is that being called a Grammarnazi is not an act that flows down a power-gradient, nor is it used to shut down anything too particularly important****. As such, you wouldn’t even be able to reasonably compare the insult-use of Grammarnazi to actual slurs used as insults, since they perform entirely different kinds of cultural work.
4)Regardless of any truth value to claims that the suffix -nazi has merely come to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, this is obviously not true for the suffix -stasi, since that suffix doesn’t have a culturally acquired meaning other than the literal one, since it’s not in common use. As such, points 1-3 aren’t even necessary to establish the BS in that paragraph, since even if everything she said about the suffix -nazi were true, she didn’t just use that one. Calling someone a Femistasi is actually literally comparing someone to the East German
Homeland State Security.
In both “feminazi” and “femistasi” the allusion is to certain totalitarian attitudes and the intolerance and suppression of dissent. Indeed, it was this, and eminently not their politics, that the Nazis and the Stasi had in common, which further underlines my point that no comment about anyone’s wider political views is being made.
This is part of the previous line of thought, but it’s crap in a different way, so I’m quoting separately. Paula here seems to imply that running a totalitarian state is not politics. Because a form of government is not political? I’ve complained in the past about such incoherent restrictions on what can be considered “political” so I won’t get into that here, but really. Suppression of political dissent, being part of a totalitarian state government, and being often the enforcing arm of the politics of the government is not political?
In the case of the -stasi suffix, it draws attentions to behaviours associated with the thought police, for whom anyone who dares to hold non-approved attitudes is automatically persona non grata and to be treated as an enemy of the people. I am referring, of course, to the unfailing response on certain blogs whenever someone has had the temerity to challenge the claims that have been made there. Any suggestion, no matter how mildly phrased or how in keeping with the principles of skepticism, that The Sisterhood might not be automatically and wholly right by default has been met with torrents of abuse, and a pot-pourri (actually, dung-heap would seem a more appropriate metaphor) of accusations ranging from troll at the lower end, through slimebag, douche etc, right up to misogynist or even rape-apologist.
“Thought police” is an Orwellian term. Originally, it referred to an actual police actually making sure that no unapproved thoughts happened, since people caught thinking the unapproved thing were brainwashed to “fix” the problem, and ultimately killed. Obviously the Stasi couldn’t quite achieve that level of efficiency, but they certainly tried, by arresting and/or killing people they’ve found expressing unapproved sentiments, even in the “privacy” of their own homes. So, what does Paula compare this to?
To argument. To people disagreeing, often with long-winded explanations and links to evidence, and doing so while liberally dispensing invective. In writing. On their own blogs, as well as in comment sections on other blogs. Most of these “oppressed” dissenters aren’t even banned from commenting on these blogs, and they certainly are free to express themselves in the privacy of their own public blogs without any repercussions (other than maybe having someone disagree with you (publicly even! *gasp*), or say that they don’t like you anymore, and maybe won’t give you their money) or restrictions. That’s stasi-like behavior. But apparently only when Teh Ebil #FTBullies do it, since the antiFTB contingent indulges in exactly the same behavior (plus occasional threats and extensive use of bigoted slurs; minus the evidence), but when they do it it’s just “calls for balance” and “challeng[ing] the claims”.
Good heavens, we have even seen Ophelia Benson describe DJ Grothe’s call for more balance in the discussions as “sticking a metaphorical target” on her!
This “call for balance” btw. was Grothe’s silly-ass, evidence-free claim that talking about harassment has caused a drop in female attendance at TAM, and therefore talk about harassment should stop. I fail to see “balance” here, except in the “Fair And Balanced” sense (more details about this, from Ophelia herself).
Let’s not forget the abuses of speakers’”privilege” at certain conferences, where audience members holding “the wrong attitudes” have been picked on by the speaker from the platform.
Elevatorgate is never going to die is it? Also, Paula is in business, not science… but really. It has never been a bad thing for a speaker to analyze and criticize an attendees public writing. Most of the time, this bit of whining is some sort of “the internet isn’t real” luddism. In this case, it seems more generic hypocrisy in the service of “when we criticize, it’s just criticism; when you criticize, it’s ‘picking on’ and being the thought police”, as noted above. Also, she’s just plain bullshitting when she claims Stef McGraw was “picked on” for her “attitudes”. She had a publicly stated written argument deconstructed. An argument is not an attitude, by any definition of the word.
Let’s consider 1930s Germany for a moment. How did the Nazis gain popular support? By exploiting a sense of grievance post-Versailles, by continually telling the German people they’d been treated abominably, had their noses ground in the dust,been unfairly penalized, that they were the victims of an international, Jew-led conspiracy, that they needed to rise from the ashes and gain their revenge and their proper, god-ordained place in the world.
Yeah, let’s consider this. And by “this”, I don’t actually mean the historical inaccuracies in this paragraph, because they’re not relevant just now. For starters, as Paula herself reluctantly admits in a later paragraph, it’s not actually a case of the Nazis “telling the German people they’d been treated abominably”, since the German people were well-aware of that fact (and a fact it certainly was), Nazis or no. But let’s consider the political situation in 1930′s Germany. Here we have an abysmally poor, systematically oppressed people, who end up becoming radicalized and a totalitarian state results. Happens all the fucking time. What’s the solution to the problem?
Well, according to Paula, it seems to be “Oh you silly Germans. Stop feeling oppressed and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, and “Don’t talk about systemic oppression, don’t try to eliminate oppression, and don’t ever dare publicly and openly argue with those who say there isn’t any. Because if you do, you’ll be propagating a victim mentality and also being Nazis yourself.” Where in the goddamn universe has being silent about systemic oppression and telling people to instead fix themselves ever worked?
The real solution to the existence of systemic victims is not cries of individualist empowerment, but deconstruction of the oppressive system. The French learned this lesson, which is why WWII was followed by the creation of the Council of Europe and the EEC instead of another oppressive Treaty of Versailles.
So is the Sisterhood’s sense of victimhood also justified? No.
Fuck the evidence from years of social science*****. Paula says there’s no oppression of women, therefore there isn’t.
In my experience (and I’ve attended and organized a lot of conferences in my time)there’s a sexualized atmosphere at all conferences involving an overnight stay:people are away from home, probably drinking more heavily than they would at home, *cough* networking, surrounded by people who share a common interest, whether that’s in secularism or buttercups or ball bearings, and who are equally letting their hair down and out for a bit of fun, and, moreover, with hotel rooms conveniently located right above their heads.
What a sorry world Paula lives in, if she’s never experienced collegiality not laced with sex. It’s a bit like eating all foods drenched in Ketchup (or any other condiment of your choice).
Well, I have experienced plenty of friendly, collegial drunkenness, fun, and “letting your hair down” while away from home, too. Some of it involved sex and an atmosphere that could be described as “sexy”. Some of it however was just hanging out with awesome people and shooting the shit, without sex appearing anywhere on the horizon. It’s awesome (it also oddly seems to be clustered around Poland). Why, last October I spent an entire weekend in mixed company away from home, sleeping in the same room with two dudes, and somehow no one got propositioned. We must be all prudes; or asexual. Or, maybe, we prefer some variety in our life, and are therefore capable of sometimes not thinking about getting laid. Seems there aren’t that many people like that in Paula’s life, if she’s never experienced anything like that.
Anyway. What do you want to bet that most, if not all, of these conferences has sexual harassment policies (after all, this is what this latest “ZOMG Stazinazis” is about)?
I simply do not accept that any reasonably mature, rational adult does not know exactly how to avoid getting into this kind of situation if he or she would prefer not to,or how to deal with it if it occurs.
This is quoted just to laugh at it. Because really, she just finished saying that this happens at all conferences and that anyone can find themselves propositioned. Which I guess means “how to avoid getting into this situation” = “not going to conferences” :-p
And, of course, she’s being very disingenuous when she implies that we say people don’t know how to deal with propositions (or harassment; because let’s remember, this is about harassment policies, dissembling on Paula’s part notwithstanding). but you know, knowing how to deal with stupid shit because you’re constantly exposed to it is not actually a valid reason for stupid shit to exist.
Note that I am talking about normal, non-violentsituations in which no assault takes place. I am talking about the kind of normalinteraction that, whether you like it or not, goes on wherever you get a group of adults letting their hair down while away from home.
False dichotomy which denies the existence of harassment which is not assault.
but to give the impression that such assaults are commonplace is to do a disservice
Boring lie is boring, but at least explains why the preceding false dichotomy exists.
To tear a movement apart, [...] over something that is just a feature of life in general and not specific to the movement itself
Translation: atheists and skeptics shouldn’t strive to be better. Average is fine. Doesn’t matter that average is pretty fucking horrible.
I did a sociology module as part of my degree many years ago: I know the arguments about socialization and normative values, and structural discrimination and all that malarkey.
This was hilarious the first time, and it’s never stopped being hilarious. Paula knows better than social scientists with years of work and experience and science to back them up. Because she took one sociology module. Is there any better demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect?
So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.
And the way to fight poverty is to stop “externalizing” the causes of poverty, and instead tell people to stop being so goddamn lazy and to view themselves as “mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride” and stop blaming their poverty on rich people or hierarchies or classism or “privilege”.
Libertarianism is such tiresome bullshit.
Anyway, she’s repeating the bullshit trope that non-libertarian feminists are saying that women aren’t capable of doing what men do. This is of course bullshit. Women are just as capable as men, and they are often far better able to deal with adversity since they don’t get shit handed to them on a silver platter and have to constantly fight against stupid sexist bullshit. Men faced with even a fraction of the shit a woman who shares their other social statuses has to face tend to dissolve into incoherent puddles of self-pity rather quickly (see: MRA), because they lack the practice and have never acquired the requisite hardened skins. However, as noted above, being able to deal with stupid shit is not actually a good reason for stupid shit to exist. Plus, as everyone should realize, two people with identical ability but different stressloads will rather obviously not perform equally at the one task they have in common. All we’re trying to do is a)undo some of that damage of the extra stressload in the short term, and b)equalize the stressload.
But I am saying that we women do ourselves no favours by assuming that the system is malevolently weighted against us
And here Paula says that women shouldn’t know the truth, because it does us no favors. And she says we’re belittling women?
Yes, there’s the occasional Neanderthal, in any walk of life. But it’s up to us whether we let him put us off doing what we really want to do. Let’s not give him that power over us! We can choose to rise above him (or sidestep him) and continue pursuing our own goals.
Here Paula is being anti-scientific, because this comment basically amounts to “willpower is an unlimited resource”, which we know isn’t true.
In almost any fieldyou care to consider, the women who have made it to the topare generally not sympathetic to the view that men or the system were desperately trying to hold them back. They havesimply adopted the tactics I am describing here, and have refused to let anything stop them.
Women who mold themselves to and make bargains with a patriarchal system are more successful within the patriarchal system than those who try to dismantle it for the benefit of all women?
They certainly haven’t diverted their focus from their goals to worrying about how men are treating them, and they haven’t waited for men to give them permission to succeed.
indeed not. Other women (and their allies) have done this for them and done something about some of the structural barriers that exist so that these exceptional women could succeed. How is this an argument for not continuing to dismantle these barriers, so that even more women can succeed?
Activism is by definition controversial: we don’t need activists for causes that are already widely accepted. This means that conflict comes with the territory. Activists need to be able to cope with that, we need to be able to deal with people who really do want to silence us and discredit us at any cost. It can turn nasty.
I quote this specifically because it’s so fucking hilarious that this comes from the woman who whines about feminazistasi oppression because she and others are being criticized. As I said before, she’s basically saying that other people mustn’t speak up when they’re mistreated and instead they “need to be able to cope with that” and “need to be able to deal with people who really do want to silence [them] and discredit”. But she and the other antiFTB-whiners should be totes encouraged to whine all day and night about Teh Ebil #FTBullies, because they apparently don’t need to learn to cope. Not even with the much smaller amount of unpleasantness that they are receiving, as compared to what they’re dishing out.
Look in the pages of any self-help book you care to pick up.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Self-help books. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Paula is advising skeptics to read the quackery that is self-help books. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
What we have seen endlessly on the pages of the worst of the blogs over the course of the last year-plus is just a tedious, counterproductive, alienating, divisive, pointless self-indulgence.
Don’t care to argue “alienating” and “divisive”, but the fact that WIS happened, WIS2 will happen, and harassment policies are being adopted, is boringly obvious refutation of the claims of “counterproductive” and “pointless”.
How many of those speakers [at WIS] were not already well established in the movement? [...] Talk about “Four legs good, two legs better”!
This is hilariously incoherent. A conference that previously didn’t exist and doesn’t cannibalize other conferences in terms of speakers can by definition not provide less exposure to these speakers (and the group they belong to) than its nonexistence. Also, it should be noted that Paula doesn’t actually know what these women who spoke at the conference talked about (other than the speeches they gave; she might know that, but I doubt she’s seen all the videos), and what kind of networking happened at the conference.
Far from encouraging new women to get involved, all this hysterical and unjustified insistence on how dangerous our conferences are for women, how hostile our movement is to them, the indignities and humiliations they will be exposed to should they dare to set foot over the skeptical threshold could have been calculated to scare them away.
I note she provides precisely zero evidence for any of this. Also, bonus point for using “hysterical”.
Ophelia Benson herself wouldhave us believe she’s been scared away from attending a conference because of the exaggerated and over-the-top messages she got about the terrible risks she’d face if she went.
Another boring lie. Paula here is basically claiming that “nice business, would be a shame if it burned down” is a warning about fire hazards.
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*Incidentally, posted on scribd by hoggle. Nice allies she’s got.
**After sufficiently complaining at the fact that the link in her tweet can only be accessed with a google account**. because really, wtf? (in case you’re wondering, a previous tweet had the link to the scribd document. still a dumb format, but at least it doesn’t require anyone to log in anywhere to read it)
***she’s actually lying when she’s saying she’s using the suffix to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, since she DOES compare FTB to actual, real, 1930′s Nazis later in the essay.
****being a stickler for the use of grammar where it actually helps communication, I still very much acknowledge that knowing the difference between you’re and your, and knowing when to use the word “whom”, is piddly bullshit compared to social justice activism.
*****a sample this, as well as other scientific articles and essays, are of course collected in the comments of this post
I was going to write a post using most of these, but I changed my mind. Still, the links are informative reading, so I’m just going to post them without the article that was supposed to go around them. And just to make the post more than just a dry linkdump, here’s a picture of Dusty:
Not a safe space — a good 101-level explanation of what the term “safe space” even means.
Michigan Legislators Demand Control of the Organ Which Must Not Be Named — summary of what thedrama in Michigan, with summary of the effects of their anti-woman bill
Chicago Police misclassifying trans women of color in the sex trade as “johns” in its “end demand” initiative — article on how the police manage to turn a anti-procurers-of-prostitution campaign into a campaign to arrest, out, and shame poor trans women of color
Despite The Evidence, Anti-Choicers Persist in Lying About Emergency Contraception — article by Amanda Marcotte about something I’ve been saying repeatedly: the science has already shown that hormonal contraceptives, including Emergency Contraception, doesn’t cause implantation failure.
Respect as it applies to anti-harassment policies — A conference organizer states his opinion about the relative importance (or lack thereof) of whether anti-harassment policies will make it harder for people to get laid.
Yesterday I got a pingback on the social context post from this blogpost. Didn’t think much of it, except then the same pingback showed up on Almost Diamonds, and I got curious. The first half was blandly uninteresting, but when I got to the second half, my SIWOTI Syndrome was triggered. So, here it is, taken apart Marjanović-style:
[...]I’m bothered by two (somewhat related) themes I keep seeing crop up in these discussions:
1) It’s wrong to want sex from people without being interested in getting to know them
Well, that’s off to a bad start. It’s not wrong to want sex with anyone* and I highly doubt anyone said that. What’s been under discussion is not “want” but “ask”. There’s a lot of people I want a lot of things from, but I only ask them for it if/when it’s appropriate. So this “theme” that this writer is bothered by doesn’t even exist. So here it is, with corrections:
wronginappropriate to wantask for sex fromwith people without being interested in getting to know them sufficiently well to establish whether such asking would be appreciated
This is generally couched in reasonable-sounding language like this from PZ Myers:
I have a simple suggestion. Think of sex as something two or more friends do; but also keep in mind that most friends don’t have sex together. When you’re at a meeting, plan to make friends promiscuously, but remember: the purpose first and foremost is friendship, not sex partners.
At first glance, this seems like a reasonable suggestion. Most people prefer to get to know people before having sex with them, and most people would rather have sex with someone they like for nonsexual reasons also. But some people just want sex, and there is nothing wrong with that. [emphasis mine]
And this is where the “honesty is hard” part starts to come in. This writer quotes PZ talking about doing sex, but then answers as if it were about wanting sex. So: is this writer too stupid to accurately read the very bit they quote, or are they being dishonest?
I should also note that this quote from PZ is about atheist conferences, the main purpose of which is indeed friendly socializing, not fucking. Hence, his advice about priorities is quite accurate, given the social context.
It’s not up to us to tell people what their goals should be in a social interaction.
This is another inaccuracy, since PZ didn’t say fuck-all about goals. The quote is about methods and general priorities for socializing at atheist conferences. If your first-priority goal is to find a zipless fuck with someone you don’t want to have to talk to, there are meet-ups for that, but atheist conferences ain’t it.
Denigrating anonymous men for wanting to “bag a young hottie” (which is Jen McCreight’s paraphrase, not an actual quote from anyone) at each speaking gig sends the sexnegative message that desiring sex with a person you find attractive (which is how I would have phrased it) is WRONG and CREEPY.
And again we’re in “honesty is hard” territory, since plucking that phrase from Jen’s post without context is pretty fucking close to quote mining**. Jen wasn’t “denigrating”. This quote is from the post in which she retells how women had started sharing stories about speakers’ behaviors towards women (themselves or others) with her. And of course, she and the women who shared these stories with her are absolutely entitled to feel uncomfortable with any of these behaviors and thus want to avoid the men thusly described. Just like dude can want/try to fuck a young woman at every speaker event, so these women can want to not be targets of these advances and stay the fuck away from dude and warn other women, in case they also don’t want to be targets. It’s not sex-negative for women to decide that they do not wish to be targets of this dude’s depersonalized*** agenda, nor is it sex negative to share that information with others. In fact, using “sex-negative” in this sense implies that women having individual boundaries and personal preferences is “sex-negative”; a rather problematic implication, to say the least.
In addition, speaking about it as something that only men do…
More BS. Jen didn’t say it was something only men do. As it happens, she was warned by other women about men. Likely there simply aren’t enough lesbian/bi/pan speakers for the entitled douchenozzles to have made an appearance, and thus women were warning other women about sexual behavior from men. Should they have made up shit about being sexually objectified by women, for the sake of equality? And if any straight female speakers were behaving inappropriately towards other male speakers, why would Jen know about this? It’s not like dudes knew about the warnings circulating amongst women, so why would these women know if similar warnings about women circulated among men?
And in any case, when the conversation expanded to sexual harassment as a whole (i.e. not just inappropriate behavior from speakers), a female entitled douchenozzle appeared rather promptly (See Elyse’s encounter with the swinger-couple. The straight, and therefore woman-including, swinger couple). Like I said, it’s bullshit to say people are claiming only men behave like this.
In addition, speaking about it as something that only men do contributes to the myth of men not being hot.
I would like everyone to read this, and think about the incredibly fucked up assumptions this one simple sentence contains. Apparently, being propositioned inappropriately is a sign that you’re hot, and not getting unwanted sexual propositions from strangers in inappropriate contexts means you’re fugly; instead of, you know, the fact that some groups of people feel, because of socialization, more entitlement to ask sex “from” people, especially if those people are members of the Sex Class. Therefore, I guess, women shouldn’t complain about inappropriate, unwanted sexual advances (they’re a compliment), and we shouldn’t ever point out that men are more likely to act on their sexual urges regardless of whether signals of interest are present and regardless of the appropriateness of such a proposition given the context (because that would imply that men are ugly, not that there’s a difference in privilege/entitlement and differences in the way men are seen (as people) and the way women are seen (as members of the Sex Class)). wow.
McCreight puts desiring sex with attractive women in the same category as talking only to a woman’s chest, nonconsensual groping, and following a woman to her hotel room.
Again, the conflation of wanting with asking. Is this writer comprehension-challenged, having a hard time being honest, or actually incapable of telling the difference between wanting something and actually acting on that want?
and anyway, if all those things are “things Jen doesn’t want to experience from other speakers”, then they are in the same very broad category. The category of “Jen does not want”, and apparently also the category of “things other women told Jen they didn’t want, but experienced from speakers anyway”. What the writer seems to be trying to imply is that Jen equated these things as equally bad, and I think that claim is a stretch.
There is nothing wrong with desiring sex for purely physical reasons.
More conflation of wanting and acting. Blah blah, moving on.
Resorting to slut shaming is not necessary to discuss harassment.
Slut is a gendered term, a slur against women and women’s sexuality. Claiming “slut-shaming” against men is like claiming racial discrimination against whites.
2) Dishonesty is expected, and even encouraged, where sexuality may be involved
This is a direct lie related to my “social context” post. I’ll explain below, when we get to the specifics.
This is related to Point 1 by virtue of the fact that if wanting sex is wrong…
Blah blah wanting acting blah blah.
…then people who want sex are going to be encouraged to hide that fact until the socially appropriate time.
Interesting phrasing. It implies that there is something wrong with putting a filter between your wants and your actions, by using the word “hide” (as opposed to simply not acting on something), and by connecting it to the previous claim of sex-negativity, as if the demands for filtering between wants and actions was a special case because it was sex. By that logic, it shouldn’t be considered rude to eat or talk loudly in a theater if I want to; it shouldn’t be considered inappropriate to drop my pants and piss whenever and wherever I feel the urge to; it shouldn’t be inappropriate to tell other people that I think they’re ugly, smelly, dumber than a moldy avocado, have no sense of how to dress, their voices are annoying, et cetera; lie down to nap wherever and whenever I feel like; et cetera ad nauseam. In reality of course, basic filters between wanting and acting on those wants is expected of every neurotypical person over the age of 5, and of all adult people considered fit for socialization with other adults. Sex is no exception.
People who just come out and say they want sex (even in the least coercive and lowest pressure way I can think of) are disrespectful, objectifying, and should be ashamed of themselves.
This refers to Elyse’s encounter, and is therefore a lie of omission, since the disrespectful, objectifying part was not the “just come out and say they want sex” part, but the “while I was at work, from complete strangers, in violation of the convention’s policy” part.
Asking for sex is not seeing a person “as your plaything.” It’s just asking for sex.
There’s no such thing as “just” asking for sex. Nothing is “just” anything when it comes to human communication and interaction. Most actions involving other humans have subtextual and contextual meanings beyond “just” the surface-message. And so, me asking someone to dinner is not “just” asking someone to take in nourishment in my physical vicinity, and nor is asking a convention speaker you have no acquaintance with and no reason to assume they’re into your kink to sex “just” asking to touch bodies for physical pleasure. this is once again the denial of social context that pissed me off when JT was doing it, except here it’s even worse. The last two quotes taken together read as if the writer despises the existence and insistence on acknowledgment of social contexts in general. The writer, in other words, is starting to sound like Holden Caulfield.
Objecification only happens if you see the other person’s desires as irrelevant.
not irrelevant; merely less important that your own desires. Which breaking a conference-policy and asking for sex from someone while they’re at work absolutely is.
As long as you are genuinely seeking enthusiastic consent, if you want sex, you ought to ask for it!
yeah. I should totally ask my hot, monogamously married prof to have sex with me. Because fuck social context, my ability to always act on my wants is more important than making other people deeply uncomfortable and disregarding their desire to be seen as professionals instead. *rolleyes*
Hiding your intentions is just being dishonest, not respectful.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Holden Caulfield, indeed.
Also, desires are not intentions. Intentions are intentions.
As one commenter on this blog put it:
I too find smart, interesting people who think about things quite sexy, yet am generally skittish of strangers. I’m also alternately oblivious to and skeeved out by the way flirting (in most mainstream venues) happens most times. Still, I’d far prefer for someone to tell me they think I have great boobs and would like to make out with me than to just hint at it, assuming they are respectful of my possible “no thank you.” I like transparent, respectful asks, and people who ask for consent frequently and sincerely.
because social interaction in general is a game of lowest-common-denominator, where if one person doesn’t mind socially inappropriate behavior, we must all abandon our own boundaries and definitions of socially inappropriate behavior.
Wait, no. In reality, to behave like a civilized social being, you should behave as is considered appropriate to the given social context, and only when you learn someone’s personal preferences do you get to move on from there. since that’s tricky for socially inept people, we made buttons. Use them, if you prefer bluntness, but don’t force bluntness on others. Your desires for bluntness do not override my desire not to have my boobs commented on constantly, when the social context is such that my boobs are not considered an appropriate subject (now, if I entered a “best boobs” competition, that would be different).
In addition to those desiring of sex being encouraged to remain silent
This is, incidentally, another dishonesty. Behaving in a socially appropriate manner given the social context, and (if your primary goal is fucking), finding social contexts in other people’s primary goal is also fucking is not silencing, it’s modulating. It’s telling you to not scream but whisper while in a movie theater.
women who are objects of such desire are also encouraged to be dishonest about their refusals.
this includes a link to my social context post. The writer here claims that my social context post is about encouraging women to be dishonest. As mentioned above, this is (self-evidently, to anyone who has actually read my post) a blatant lie.
The (true) observation that rapists ignore refusals is used to suggest that women shouldn’t be encouraged to clearly communicate their own desires.
More lying. The social context post suggested that women are being quite clear, using socially understood means of “letting someone down easy”, and that certain men simply choose to ignore them. The writer conflates “clear” with “blunt”, even though the mythcommunication link explains quite well that women’s communication is quite clear and understandable even when it’s not blunt.
The (also true) observation that women are socialized not to clearly communicate a refusal is used to suggest that we should not be encouraging women to break free of that socialization and be more honest about what they want.
This is also a lie, since I have in fact included a suggestion of how to encourage women to be willing to be more blunt.
This is confusing the “is” and the “ought.
This is just confused. The “ought” in question is to ask women to break through socialization-pressures for the benefit of men. I reject this as a valid ought because of the realities of the “is” of the consequences to women of breaking through this socialization, which are greater than the consequences of them not breaking through or (as I suggested) of them demanding that first, the dudes put some effort into changing the dynamic that reinforces the socialization.
The undeniable state of mainstream heterosexual flirting is that men are expected to be the aggressors, that clearly communicating a desire to have sex is disfavored, and that a clear refusal is often met with hostility. None of this is an argument that the status quo is the way things ought to be.
Well, good thing then that I didn’t make that argument, eh?
We should all be encouraged to be more open and honest about what we want from a social interaction, even if the we may be subject to negative social consequences.
Who’s “we”? And if the writer had paid any attention to the post they’re criticizing, I actually suggested means by which women can be encouraged to be more blunt. However, demanding of disprivileged strangers one doesn’t know that they should subject themselves to social punishment for the benefit of the privileged class is an asshole move. How about the privileged ones put pressure on each other to lessen social punishment, instead?
The exception, of course, is when physical safety is in question.
Because emotional harm is just hysterical whining, amirite? Besides, women should all want to spend their leisure time being made to feel like shit for the greater good, eh?
Of course, the flipside of this is that we should stop punishing women for being blunt. A woman who clearly communicates a “no” is not being harsh, she’s being honest. A woman who says she’s not interested in someone (even if s/he hasn’t made any advances) is just being communicative. Hurting someone’s feelings through deception is a dick move. Hurting someone’s feelings by telling them the truth is a brave and awesome thing to do, and we should encourage people to do it.
This is just repeating what I said as if it were some clever thought the writer themselves came up with.
However, the danger of social disapproval is not a good reason to be dishonest.
Communicating in a clear but non-blunt fashion is not dishonesty. Claiming that subtlety is the same as dishonesty on the other hand is dishonest.
If the object of your affection will see you as creepy for being clear about your sexual interest, that’s not a reason to hide your interest.
Actually, yes it is. If you can’t proposition someone in a non-creepy fashion, don’t proposition until you learn how to interact appropriately to the given context, or find social contexts in which your behavior is seen as socially appropriate. Your horniness is not a right to sleaze on other people any more than my full bladder is a right to pee on a bus.
It does not follow that dishonesty is justified. If flirting should be about creating intimacy, then it relies on both parties behaving in a trustworthy way (i.e. not lying to each other).
More equating of tact with outright lying. Our Holden Caulfield is morphing into Gregory House now.
You can’t remove the social context because the social context is what determines how women will respond. they’re not flirting with you in a social vaccum, and pretending otherwise is just fucking stupid. We have to fix the social context first (i.e. not punish women for being above-average-assertive, and instead shut down those why try to punish women for blatantly and “rudely” setting boundaries and even taking initiative themselves), before you can seriously expect women to consistently “help” socially inept guys at flirting by being blunt with them.
Not a word in that quote about how lying is good. And the stuff in the brackets is exactly the same as what the writer just proposed themselves, except without the use of the gendered expletive. Shocking. Who knew this champion of honesty would be such a blatant liar?
I agree that it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to completely go against their socialization, but that doesn’t mean that we should not ask them to do so
Will the writer explain why we should ask women to deal with social punishment to make men’s lives easier, instead of asking men to stop the punishment to make everyone’s lives easier?
Society socializes us to do many things that we reject. Dishonesty could be one of them. Jadehawk’s view is that women are just brainless products of society’s conditioning, and have no choice in how to act.
More lies. Women have a choice, and most of them, in the risk-benefit analysis of “being blunt, risk punishment, but make d00dz lives easier” vs. “behaving averagely, not getting punished, not caring whether some inept d00d won’t get laid”, most women will rationally chose the second. A rational person would then of course work to diminish the risk of punishment, not bullshit about how explaining and defending women’s right to do so is somehow calling them brainless.
I think we all have a choice, regardless of what we’re told, or how we’re taught. I don’t think “the social context is what determines how women will respond.”
Five bucks says our writer has libertarian leanings. Belief in Counter-causal free will is, of course, a given.
I think women will respond based on their own individual choices, in light of the social context.
This, as if it were somehow a contradiction to what I said. Precious.
If you intend to send the message for someone to back off, do it clearly. Don’t use subtle social cues that are open to interpretation.
And here the writer shows that they either didn’t read or didn’t understand the “mythcommunication” essay, since it makes it very clear that what women’s forms of rejections are actually clear. And than men chose to pretend that they’re open to interpretation. It also makes clear that this writer has no fucking clue how human interaction and communication work, demanding that language be stripped of half the work it does****. Whether that’s only in the case of sex, or whether the writer actually wants people to blurt out all their feelings and opinions and desires in crassly blunt language regardless of context is unclear.
If you want to get to know someone, do that. If you intend to communicate sexual interest, do it clearly. Don’t do it by pretending you want to get to know someone.
This goes back, I think, to the earlier quote by PZ. If so, it shows clearly that the writer completely misses the point of the quote, because PZ suggested that a)atheist conferences aren’t a good place if your primary goal is getting laid, and therefore b)that people should come to these with the expectations to socialize and make friends, not get laid (as I said, if you want to get laid, there are meetups for that). But beyond that, it’s posing a false dichotomy, in that, unless you’re in a darkroom (and therefore already know the intentions of the other people there explicitly), you always need to get to know a person you have the hots for at least well enough to know whether they’d be interested in your proposition (and often also to let them get to know you enough to decide whether you’re someone they want to fuck). Cold-propositioning in a not explicitly sexual context is being an entitled douchenozzle, noting more, nothing less.
And don’t pretend you’re interested in sex if you’re only interested in getting to know someone.
Nobody actually does this, but it’s a common stereotype about women that they “string guys along” or are “being a tease”. Propagating bullshit, sexist stereotypes falls under “honesty is hard”, too.
My only problem here is dishonesty about one’s intentions.
Not actually true, since it’s evident that the writer’s problem is actually impulse control and/or distaste for the social norm that requires people to have impulse control. Also, inability to not lie about other people’s writing; that also seems to be a problem.
Flirting is not easy. But if we try, we could make it a little easier.
Rejecting the notion of impulse control and the existence of appropriate and inappropriate contexts for sex and flirting won’t make any of this “easier”; it will however make for an even chillier climate for most women.
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*wanting sex from people is an… interesting phrasing, however. Sex is not something you “get”, nor do you get it “from” people, because it’s not a service or good (unless we’re talking about prostitution). sex is something you “do”, and you do it “with” people; because it’s a form of social interaction.
**also, I don’t know why this writer assumes to know that “bag a young hottie” is not a quote? Maybe the person who told Jen that particular story actually used the term. Maybe that person even quoted the dude in question. Point being, the lack of quotation marks doesn’t allow for the degree of certainty the writer espouses on this point.
***it’s absolutely inarguable that wanting to “bag a young hottie at every event” is depersonalizing, since the “young hotties” are interchangeable. This is comparable to “I want to get married” before you ever meet someone you might feel like marrying: it’s a depersonalized goal into which you then try to stuff the people you run into, as long as they fit the qualifications.
****Steven Pinker to the Rescue ;-)
The recent, aggressive fights over who is or isn’t an ally, and who can or cannot call themselves or others an ally made me really think about what the word means, and how it has been used.
Traditionally, “allies” are two (groups of) people aligned for one common cause. Such allies are, in theory if not always in practice, equals in terms of investment in the common cause and power/privilege at least in regards to the issue at the core of the alliance. It is a word that designated collaboration, the co-working of different and maybe even otherwise opposed groups and individuals on a particular common cause. There’s however a newer use of the word now. I don’t know where that particular usage originated, but personally I blame the naming of the Gay Straight Alliance for its propagation. In any case, such an alliance is completely different from the traditional one. An alliance of gay and straight folks on the issue of gay rights, to stick with that example, is not an alliance of equals. It’s an alliance of, on the one hand, people for are the cause, i.e. people who are directly affected and oppressed by the axis of oppression being allied against; and, on the other hand, people who have privilege on that axis and thus aren’t directly affected. This new “alliance” contains a power-imbalance as well as what I’d call a salience-imbalance, which doesn’t exist in the traditional meaning of “ally” and “alliance”. This is a significant difference, and I think that the non-differentiation between these two meanings can even make the difference worse, because it erases the imbalance and the completely different dynamics that are a consequence thereof. And, it gives the privileged “half” of such an alliance more power without acknowledging that it does so (by using a word that implies equality).
A word that would more accurately describe the Gay Straight Alliance kind of ally is actually “supporter”. “Supporter” acknowledges the difference in salience: I can support someone in their fight for their rights, but it’s obviously wrong to say they support me in my fight for their rights; allies, on the other hand, support each other in the fight for a common cause. “Supporter” also addresses the issues of power imbalance, because it relegates the privileged groups/individuals to a supporting role by definition, reserving the center stage for those whose issues are actually at stake. Without that, you end up with “allies” who feel that, because of the nature of alliances, they get to speak for their allies, and that they have the same rights to leadership positions in the movement as all the other members of such an alliance. Which is a nice, liberal idea right up there with being “colorblind”, and with the same effect: pretending equality when an obvious power imbalance is present hands more power within such an alliance to the already privileged. “Supporter” is also a word that’s more evaluative, and specifically evaluative of actions: someone who is “for” a particular social justice issue, but doesn’t do anything to make it happen is at best a cheerleader or bystander, or at worst a de facto supporter of the status quo. In order to gain the title of “supporter”, one actually has to be doing some supporting. Allying on the other hand is simply aligning onelself with a cause, which requires no further action. This part especially, I think, has been the cause for some of the drama recently: I can declare my alignment with a particular cause, issue, or movement freely, and being told that actually I’m not thusly aligned can feel like mind-reading and invalidating one’s feelings and agency. But it doesn’t make sense to declare oneself a supporter unilaterally, even when the people I claim I support are telling me that my actions are not supportive but counterproductive. Hence the blowups about the “you’re not my ally” type comments: they’re generally meant in the newer sense of supporter-ally, indicating that the person’s actions are less-than-supportive. but the privileged person to whom such a comment is generally addressed perceives it typically in the older, common-cause-ally meaning, and will thus assume that a counter-supportive intent or alignment is being implied, and their right to self-identify by naming their alignment is being trampled.
Now, I’m not asking for people to stop using the word “ally” in the newer meaning. I can’t, not being that kind of influence on social justice movements everywhere, and not being able to command other people’s use of words. That ship has sailed. But I do think it’s fair and reasonable to demand that people distinguish between common-cause-ally and supporter-ally when using and hearing/reading the words, to avoid pointless arguments. And it’s not like it’s difficult to know which of the two meanings is used at any given time, since the common-cause-ally is bidirectional (for example, a black gay dude and a black straight woman are both each other’s allies in the fight against racism) while supporter-ally is unidirectional (The same dude can be an ally of the woman in fighting for women’s rights, and the woman can be his ally in fighting for gay rights; but it’s incoherent to say that a gay person is an ally to a straight person in the fight for gay rights, or that a woman is an ally to a man in the fight for women’s rights). Making this distinction in conversation and argument, I think, is quite important. Because without it, you get things like this article from Stephanie Zvan, which is an excellent description and analysis of the traditional common-cause-alliance, but completely fails to note that the word now also means “supporter of someone else’s cause”. Her article is an excellent description of alliance if it were about how atheists of different backgrounds can work together for the atheist cause; or how liberal atheists, liberal Christians, and liberal Muslims can, despite their differences, ally to fight against environmental destruction or for better education in public schools. But when it’s about straight people being allies to LGBT people in fights for LGBT-rights; white people being allies to people of color in the fight against racism; etc., then the old model of alliance fails: if your support is conditional on not having your fee-fees hurt; if your support amounts to a libertarianish “I already see/treat all people as equal”; if your support, because it’s based in the ignorance that comes with privilege, actually ends up counter-productive; then the people you claim alliance with absolutely get to point out that you’re not being much of a supporter-ally to them.
And just to make this very clear: while I think it would do good if everyone were more careful and conscious of this dual meaning, it’s primarily the privileged halves of such alliances I want to see take greater care in seeing the distinction, so that we can avoid dealing with pointless flailing about hurt pride when someone points out that one’s behavior hasn’t been very ally-like (read: has not been supportive of the people one claimed such an alliance to).
EDIT: one more important point about the difference: when someone uses the “you’re not my ally” line when it’s clearly about supporter-allies, it also makes no sense to assume that this is a statement about all alliances of the common-cause-category the two people in question may be in. I’ve seen people make the much stronger statements that social justice movement X isn’t for them because it’s insufficiently intersectional; I’ve seen people make statements claiming that a particular individual can make potentially harm a movement by making it less appealing to people on other axes of oppression because of their behavior, political position or whatever; but both of those are distinctly different than pointing out that a person with whom one is common-cause-allied in fights about X, Y, and Z is not an ally in the fight for one’s own rights.
JT Eberhard decided that his contribution to the discussion about sexual harassment at atheist conferences was going to be to talk about how to make sex happen anyway, especially for socially clueless guys like himself. And the list that came out of that might even be decent advice to guys. But the post itself? And the comments?
For one, this is crap:
But ladies, we need your help (which is why I’m writing this post). I’m not an idiot, but I’m terrible at catching subtle hints. Seriously, I’m awful. Men like me need you to communicate with them. If we’ve crossed the line and you don’t tell us, it’s very possible that we won’t even be remotely aware that the line has been crossed at all. If you then go tell other people how terrible we are for having crossed your line, you’re creating drama instead of working toward a resolution.
You know why women give “subtle” hints? It’s because 1)they’re actually not that subtle at all, certain people just prefer not to listen when it’s about sex, and 2)rejections that are more-blunt-than-socially-accceptable are socialized out of women because they regularly and rather thoroughly get punished for employing them.*
So yeah. Women are going to be “subtle”, which really just means they’re going to behave averagely, because that’s usually enough (when it’s not about sex) and because even a bit more will usually get a woman punished.
Oh, but of course we’re not supposed to talk about this:
For the purposes of this blog post, I’m talking only about these two very fun things, flirting and physicality, that are ultimately a very small aspect of getting to know somebody. I say that because I’m trying to avoid the conversation of, “but women don’t want to feel like sex objects whose primary purpose is to be flirted with.”
Now there are guys who do view women as a means to sex and have no interest in respecting a woman’s boundaries if it means they can’t push for sex. Those guys are a liability. They don’t want help and I’m not writing this post to help them. I’m talking about the men who want to create a friendly environment for women but who also want to interact with the possibility of flirting/getting laid if things go well.
Well, sorry JT, but you can’t just exclude the context from the conversation. Because women can’t exclude that context from their life into which you’re barging when you flirt with them!
You can’t exclude the existence of the creeps, because after being creeped on by 5 guys, it simply no longer matters that you’re not a creep, you’re still Yet Another Dude Who Wants Sex. And at that point, a woman might simply no longer care why you want it or whether you’d flirt correctly and respect her boundaries; because at that point, she’s too sick of all the unwanted attention to still want any sexual attention at all.
You also can’t exclude the existence of creeps, because in order to give you an unsubtle answer, a woman will by definition have to give an unsubtle answer to every man who may or may not be flirting with her. Which not only goes against past socialization, but is also most likely going to result in her being punished for it, both by the man she was just “unnecessarily harsh” to (or maybe she interpreted the signals wrong and he wasn’t even flirting with intent; then she’ll be an altogether “presumptuous bitch” for thinking a guy would even want to fuck her. pffft.), and likely by others in the social circle as well. I mean, shit, Rebecca Watson loosened an internet-wide shitstorm for just saying “guys, don’t do that” about cold-propositioning in elevators late at night!** And you want women to go against socialization and risk social punishment every time they talk to a flirty dude, just because you’re socially awkward?
Yeeeeaaahh, no. You can’t remove the social context because the social context is what determines how women will respond. they’re not flirting with you in a social vaccum, and pretending otherwise is just fucking stupid. We have to fix the social context first (i.e. not punish women for being above-average-assertive, and instead shut down those why try to punish women for blatantly and “rudely” setting boundaries and even taking initiative themselves), before you can seriously expect women to consistently “help” socially inept guys at flirting by being blunt with them.
And nevermind that this whole scenario ignores the existence of socially inept women, since it puts the burden of clear communication on them (notice how it’s the women who have to say “no” as bluntly as possible, socialization and possible punishment be damned, but the socially awkward dudes are still allowed to operate within the subtleties of basic human interaction).
And then, the fucking comments. The entire fucking comment section there needs to read “Yes Means Yes” instead of bleating shit like this:
While I have many times found myself in similar situations, I have to say this: it is absolutely vital that you find a way to communicate effectively, as there is absolutely no way that JT or anyone else can create a functioning environment that is safe for people who won’t/don’t say “no” when they mean “no.”
I totally agree that social leveraging is a dick move. That doesn’t change the fact that your refusal to say “no” makes every social situation more dangerous for everyone involved.
or complain how a “ask first, hug later” culture would somehow be a logistical nightmare.
And of course, the stupid-ass “why don’t women just wear buttons” idea came up. I’ve dealt with that crap before, and some of the less dense posters also pointed out that degrees of consent are every-changing, context-specific and person-specific, so such buttons are fucking worthless. But hey, here’s an idea for you lot: since desire for intimacy is shifting, but social ineptness isn’t, why don’t you guys who want to flirt and get laid but are afraid of missing signals wear a giant red button saying “socially inept; speak bluntly to me”? That way, women would know when they can safely be more assertive (or, if they don’t think they can bring up the energy to go against socialization, just void you) and also remind you that you wanted bluntness when your sexist conditioning kicks in and you (or one of your friends) feels like punishing the woman for being blunt. And at the same time they’ll know that those who aren’t getting their messages and aren’t wearing the button can be safely reported as harassers.
Everybody’s problems solved (that’s fucking sarcasm in case you didn’t notice; but don’t tempt me with more demanding posts like that, or else I’ll decide I’m serious about this buttons-for-the-clueless thing)
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*yeah, I am quite aware that both links talk about rape. The concepts discussed therein are still applicable to flirting and similar interactions. Rape, after all, doesn’t just happen out of the blue; it is simply the nasty pinnacle of rape culture, and rape culture reinforces itself in all these much smaller, much more innocuous-seeming interactions in which boundaries are pushed and assertive rejection punished.
**and then there was also the woman who said “no” to the obviously not-previously-discussed super-public proposal of her boyfriend, and everyone came down on her like a ton of bricks for being “cruel” for rejecting him publicly.
well, my last post actually attracted two radical feminists, one of which provided me this deeply flawed 2-page document which demonstrates a lot of the flaws in radfem understanding and treatment of trans issues. So I figure I might as well pick the thing apart bit by bit, for everyone’s entertainment and edumacation.
**TW for standard radfem fare**
Stereotyping is the act of making an assumption about an individual based on her membership in a specific class or group. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1989 landmark employment decision, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (490 U.S. 228), held that sex stereotyping is sex discrimination:
[i]n forbidding employers to discriminate against individuals because of their sex, Congress intended to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes.
Internal citations omitted.
An employer who objects to aggressiveness in women but whose positions require this trait places women in an intolerable and impermissible Catch-
22: out of a job if they behave aggressively and out of a job if they do not. Title VII lifts women out of this bind.
well actually, those two quotes seem to indicate that consequential action based on stereotyping is discrimination, not that stereotyping is. But so far, that’s close enough.
Feminists do not believe that women are naturally bad at math, but good at cooking and cleaning. We do not believe that women are neurologically, biologically, or genetically programmed to behave in certain “feminine” ways. To support women’s full and equal participation in society, women need strong legal
prohibitions against these persistently damaging stereotypes.
This is where the mistake from above gets compounded. First two sentences are self-evidently true. The last sentence gets tricky. Legal protections against discrimination are pretty straight forward; legal protections against hate speech are at least feasible, if ethically and legally questionable (and in the US, pretty much unconstitutional); but what the everglorious fuck can legal protections against stereotyping possibly be, and how would they work? Rather obvious fact aside that we can’t legislate people’s conscious or subconscious thoughts/attitudes, legislating against stereotype itself would render all American cultural artifacts illegal. Every.Single.Fucking.One.Of.Them. Because no cultural artifact is stereotype-free, especially if we remember that Title VII protects not just against sex-based discrimination but against “discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin”.
Anyway, point being that this is ridiculously fuzzy language, with some seriously fucking stupid consequences as a result.
Gender Identity protections must not come at the expense of Sex
okay…? did anyone suggest otherwise…?
Feminism supports every individual’s right to be gender non-conforming and to have legal protection from sex stereotyping discrimination in employment,
housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations.
just worth noting that here they acknowledge that it’s sex stereotyping discrimination that must be protected against.
However, advocates who frame Gender Identity as more important than Sex…
“more important”? Just like with the first segment, this is vague and thus can be accurate or not, depenting on where they’re going with it or what meaning they attach to the words/terms in that sentence. but it’s a red flag, for sure.
…reinforce stereotypes about women that feminists have fought against for decades.
citation or it didn’t happen.
GLBT organizations are, in effect, undermining critical civil rights legal precedent by developing a theory of Gender Identity that values gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” more than biological Sex. No other class of persons seeking protection under anti-discrimination legislation has attempted to intentionally disregard another protected class— until now.
This being the conclusion based on two unevidenced, asserted premises, it’s not worth much. Granted, this is a two-page flier, but since this is the central point of it, it would have helped to actually try to demonstrate that a)Gender Identity is valued higher than Sex*, and b)that protection against discrimination based on gender identity or “gendered ‘appearance, expression, or behavior’” undermines or disregards protection based on the visible physical phenotype.
Feminists are deeply invested in maintaining hard-won protections against Sex stereotyping in the form of legally actionable Sex discrimination. Feminists seek to preserve this precedent without having the same harmful assumptions about women’s appropriate “appearance, expression, or behavior” paradoxically privileged under the guise of Gender Identity.
you’re going to show any evidence, or at least a rational argument, for how protections against discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity would undermine “protections against Sex stereotyping in the form of legally actionable Sex discrimination”, or how the concept of Gender Identity, per-se, implies anything about what “appropriate” behaviors, appearance, etc. for women are? Just making and repeating these assertions isn’t making them any truer or any more convincing…
Feminist analysis of Sex stereotypes, legally actionable Sex discrimination, Gender Identity legislation, and the importance of protecting Sex as a separate legal class.
so we’re going to actually see some proper analysis finally? Thrilling. Except since no one** is arguing against protecting sex as a separate legal class, I’m not sure what’s there to analyze in connection to Gender Identity legislation.
The issue of Gender Identity has taken a prominent role in discussions, organizations, and activism supported by the Gay and Lesbian community.
Unfortunately, it’s not always clear that we have the same thing in mind when we talk about this issue. Feminist opposition to Gender Identity has been widely
misconstrued by those who don’t fully understand our concerns. This pamphlet will explain our objections and help readers engage in more productive discussions about Gender Identity that do not reinforce stereotypes or erase the legal importance of biological sex.
yeah, it’s pretty fucking obvious we’re not talking about the same fucking thing if you in any way imagine that gender identity reinforces any gender-based stereotypes or erases the legal importance of the visible physical phenotype***. I have very little hope that this pamphlet can actually manage to “explain” this false assumption into coherence.
GLBT Organizations have asked state and local legislatures around the country to take up the cause of discrimination against people of trans experience. To
do so, GLBT Organizations have offered up “Gender Identity” to protect trans people. Though familiar to people in the center of the debate, the concept has caused a lot of confusion because it’s too broad.
Prominent GLBT organizations—including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)—support a definition of Gender Identity similar to this one from Washington, DC:
“Gender identity” means a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.
First, it’s not actually DC, it’s Iowa (the quote is from this list), but that’s a minor quibble.
Second, for clarification, I’d like to point out that these are working definitions for a protected class, rather than definitions for Gender Identity per-se. This matters, since this is anti-discrimination protection, and thus a class should include both the thing itself and also behaviors, expressions etc. of/in relation to the thing. so for example, while religion wasn’t defined in title VII itself, a later law defines it as “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief” (which, if you ask an evangelical, is not the definition of their religion, for example; faith not works, remember? :-p). Most of the definitions at that link go through the trouble of separating the thing (Gender Identity) from other things relating to it, legally speaking (Gender Expression); a few do not, and a few go even further and fold Gender Identity and Gender Expression into sexual orientation, an even more inaccurate grouping. One that doesn’t make sense if one wanted to learn what Gender Identity is (i.e. its actual definition), but might be actually an attempt to pass comprehensive LGBT protection, as opposed to attempting to do it piecemeal; a potentially strategical decision then, I guess.
Anyway, yeah, these are broad definitions, and they are certainly quite varied. One can reasonably quibble about them, their accuracy, their effectiveness, etc. and the specific example provided is “too broad” only insofar as it doesn’t separate identity from expression, the way the nearly identical one from DC does****. But considering the precedent of including not just aspects of a person but also actions and behaviors in class-definitions even when they’re not part of the word definitions, it’s I think a minor quibble.
As of March 2012, at least fifteen American states have passed Gender Identity legislation modeled after this definition (the “Stereotyping Definition”).
um. “This definition” is specific to Iowa. I somehow doubt other states have passed legislation based on an Iowan definition. Also: the only “stereotype” part of that definition is the conflation of Gender Identity with Gender Expression. I’d be very surprised if that’s why it’s labeled so here.
1. The Stereotyping Definition does not define “gender.” If one doesn’t know what a “gender identity” means, how could one know what a “gender-related
true; it should be noted however, that “race”, “color”, and even “sex” are not, to my knowledge, defined in Title VII either; and “religion” was only defined years after the thing passed. I suppose one could make the argument that defining “gender” even when other terms aren’t defined is necessary, better, more useful, whatever… but then one should actually make and support that argument, not vaguely hint at it.
2. The Stereotyping Definition of Gender Identity is phrased in such a way that it intentionally overrides Sex: “regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
no. English simply doesn’t work that way. Sex (the visible physical phenotype) is simply being marked as a variable independent of and separate from from Gender Identity/Gender Expression. Which it is. What I suspect is happening here is a parsing problem (whether honest or not I’ll leave up to the reader) because of the impreciseness of that regardless. better would be “a gender related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, which are independent of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
Nonetheless, even with that imprecise “regardless”, the statement doesn’t override sex any more than the class-definitions for race, national origin, or religion do; those are also “regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth”, they just don’t say so, because nowhere has anyone ever conflated race, national origin, or religion with sex. Gender Expression and Gender Identity on the other hand are constantly conflated with sex.
No other class of persons seeking protection under anti-discrimination legislation has attempted to literally disregard another protected class.
actually, they all do. Religious discrimination exists regardless of race of the person being discriminated against; national origin discrimination exists regardless of the sex of the person*****. I just explained why this one definition bothered to make that distinction. And I also just explained that the phrase disregards the connection between sex and Gender Identity, rather than disregarding sex as a protective class. So yeah, that sentence is fractal wrongness.
Feminists object to the Stereotyping Definition because Sex has objective physical, reproductive, and experiential consequences for the overwhelming majority of women assigned-female-at-birth
no, not because. The first part of that sentence doesn’t follow from the second.
Sex exists in its own right and requires unique legal protections that Gender Identity cannot explain or represent. Gender Identity cannot replace the legal concept of sex without a significant loss of legal protections for females.
oh look, a strawman.
3. Understanding the Stereotyping Definition depends on understanding how traditional sex roles and stereotypes operate. Enduring sexist assumptions about
women create stereotypes—that we’re softer, gentler, and more emotional than men; that we’re all inclined toward “femininity,” nurturing children, and wearing certain clothing. These stereotypes act as major stumbling blocks to women’s social equality. They especially damage women who don’t conform to them.
The Stereotyping Definition elevates gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” over bodily reality. Framing gender identity—specifically, femininity—as that which fundamentally constitutes “woman” will not improve women’s social status. On the contrary, this definition of Gender Identity legitimizes as natural the social order created by traditional sex roles. This will ultimately make it more difficult for women to combat the Sex stereotypes that prevent our advancement in employment, education, and political office.
First, understanding any definition for a protective class, be it specified or not, sort of depends on understanding the roles and stereotypes involved. Can’t make sense of race discrimination protection without racism, racist stereotypes, and the harm they do to people within a racist community. Cant make sense of sex discrimination without the understanding of those stereotypes, either.
Second, Gender Identity is not Gender Expression; “femininity” is not a female Gender Identity, so the argument based on that conflation is a fucking strawman.
Third, fuck-all is being “elevated over”, as I already explained.
Fourth, Gender Identity, being an issue specifically because some individuals so thoroughly reject assigned sex roles that they end up being killed for it, cannot reinforce traditional ideas about sex. It’s doing in fact the exact opposite of that.
Fifth, Gender Identity is independent of Gender Expression, since there are femme trans men, and butch trans women; thus, it’s impossible for Gender Identity to legitimize enforcement of traditional gender roles either; which BTW aren’t the same as sex roles, since sex and gender aren’t the same, except in the patriarchal mind.
This paragraph is therefore also fractal wrongness.
We propose this alternative:
“Gender identity” means a person’s identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth, which can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of a transsexual medical condition, or related condition, as deemed medically necessary by
the American Medical Association.
Gender Identity means “identification with the sex opposite her or his physiology or assigned sex at birth” in exactly the same way that sexual orientation means wanting to fuck people of the same sex, and race means being a Person of Color, you bigoted, privileged fucks.
The rest of that definition means that a person can be discriminated against until they have reams of paper s “proving” they’re really trans, a stipulation not present for any other protective class, and excluding people in the early stages of transition (or pre-transition); making this a completely fucking discriminatory definition and thus utterly fucking worthless as a legal definition of a protective class. And as a definition of a protective class (rather than as a definition of Gender Identity per-se), it also potentially leaves the door open to discrimination based on non-conformity with sex stereotypes for the the sex assigned at birth******, and as such it fucking contradicts your claim to be against discrimination based of sex stereotypes
This definition maintains a clear distinction between sex and gender.
so did the other one; you fucking complained about the part where it made that distinction clear though.
It also protects transsexual people from discrimination without legislatively prioritizing Gender Identity over Sex
neither did the other one, you just can’t fucking read.
and without falsely presuming that Gender Identity exists independently of sex roles and stereotypes.
Gender Identity does exist independent of sex and gender roles, and stereotypes. Just because you don’t fucking know what it is, doesn’t mean you get to claim that this independence is “false”.
Now, discrimination against people’s Gender Identities and their choices of expression and behavior stereotypically tagged as gendered would not exist without these roles and stereotypes, seeing as it’s these stereotypes and roles that are gendering these things in the first place. But that’s a separate kettle of fish which this pamphlet ignores and inverts incorrectly.
So yeah. That is why I’m done with radical feminism.
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*I have a pretty good idea where the idea starts out from, namely that the sex assigned at birth based on the visible physical phenotype is being rejected by trans folk based on the diverging psychological sex; since radical feminists don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of this diverging sexual body mapping, they think that the “real” sex of a person is what they were assigned at birth, and disregard the sex the brain has a map for. This by itself doesn’t lead to “advocates who frame Gender Identity as more important than Sex” in the context of anti-discrimination protection, and less still to “a theory of Gender Identity that values gendered “appearance, expression, or behavior” more than biological Sex”, where “biological sex”, I assume, is the visible physical phenotype; unless CAIS women aren’t women either *snort*. There is a leap of logic here that simply does not follow from any stated or implied premises.
**well; the patriarchy defenders everywhere probably do, but this isn’t about MRAs, Fundies, Republicans, or any of their like.
***were this the kind of blog that liked to commit the fallacy of the Golden Middle and the fallacy of the False Equivalence, this would be the point where I would ramble about miscommunication, and both sides misunderstanding the each other. This is not such a blog, so I’ll just point out that it’s NOT bloody likely that Newt Gingrich knows better what atheism means than atheists do; or that Rick Santorum knows better what sexual orientation is than LGBT people do; and so, it’s not bloody likely that radfems know better what Gender Identity is than trans people do.
****”Gender identity or expression” – a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.
*****because of intersectionality, a lot of people experience multiple forms of discrimination, often interconnected ones: sexism against black women for example is quite different from sexism against white women. so sometimes it would be useful to treat the different protective classes as influencing each other. Now, if the radfems would make an argument that the specific inclusion of the “regardless” phrase in the definition will make it impossible/more difficult to make the argument that sex-based discrimination and Gender Identity/Gender Expression discrimination can influence each other, and thus should be excluded or rephrased as I did above to clarify what is regardless of what, they’re welcome to do so.
******theoretically, discrimination based on sex could cover this. Since it has never done so, it obviously doesn’t cover it sufficiently well, and thus it needs to be covered elsewhere. You might wish it wasn’t so, but if we’re going to be basing legislation on wishful thinking, why bother with protected classes at all? we could just wish for there to not be any discimination at all, after all.
**TW: Radfems in the comment section**
Until fairly recently, I didn’t know shit about trans issues. I’m trying to play catch-up, but… yeah. So anyway, this is mostly a post about my complete and utter disappointment with the concept of radical feminism. Because when I started getting into social justice at first, the concept appealed: patriarchy really is at the root of the oppression of women, and thus the goal should be uprooting it, not simply carving out a space for women who pay a sufficient tribute to fundamental patriarchal principles.
But you know what? that “not just for women who pay a sufficient tribute to fundamental patriarchal principles” goes for all women, so conforming to patriarchal gender-essentialism absolutely counts too. So does including women whose oppressions happen along more than just the gender-axis, because denying that classism, racism, ableism, heterosexism, cissexism, etc. are things that aren’t the patriarchy is bullshit. counterproductive bullshit.
Anyway, at first I didn’t even know that this denial, and this conformity to gender essentialism was a thing that radical feminists did, because the 2-3 that I know aren’t saying nasty shit about trans women, and aren’t denying that they are women. And I figured the extremists at AROOO were some sort of exception, possibly specific to separatist/political lesbianism (yeah, I know). So, in parallel to “Not my Nigel”, I was suffering from “not my radfem”. It wasn’t until I discovered Womanist Musings that I started learning about the history and current reality of entirely too much of what counts as radical feminism, best exemplified by the exclusion of trans women from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Since then, I’ve made it a point to search out more trans activist voices (Natalie Reed first among them, since she’s also a skeptic and feminist), and as a result have stumbled upon the deeply fucked up shit that radfems do and say to and about trans women; like this shit, or, on a wider scale this shit, where they actually fucking wrote a letter to the UN Commission on Women saying that protections for trans people are dangerous because they undermine protections for women. and then of course is the fact that the history of feminism is littered with cis feminists who’ve advocated violence against trans women, and who are considered heroes in radfem cycles.
I’m done defending radfems and radical feminism. the decent radfems can do the defending and the cleanup themselves; I’m gonna be over here, being an intersectional feminist, trying to be an ally to trans women, instead.