Another article at Secular Woman, about the deceptive notion of “politicization”, of stuffing politics where supposedly there aren’t any: http://www.secularwoman.org/invisible-politics/
Blogrolls are supposed to be a sort of promotion of other stuff one reads and stuff that’s interesting, but I feel like my reading is never that stable and I’d have to update the blogroll once a month to have it representative. There’s really only maybe 3 sites I visit regularly, and it’s often not for the reading but for the socializing. Maybe instead I should do occasional “what blogs/sites have I recently been reading” posts instead, pointing out interesting blogs I’ve discovered. Today, I’d like to feature the following sites for that purpose:
1)http://tressiemc.com/ written by Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd). From her bio:
Woman. Friend. Daughter. Scholar. Armchair activist. Hell-raiser. Intellectual Catfish.* Not particularly in that order.
I am also a PhD student in sociology at Emory University where I study education, inequality, and organizations. My research has surveyed for-profit students and the organizational mechanisms of the for-profit college sector. . My questions are less who and what and more why and how. Why are so many black students enrolled in for-profit colleges? So many women? How do status competition and stratification processes intersect with labor and economic structural change to produce these patterns?
As of Fall 2013 I am a Graduate Fellow at the Center for Poverty Research at UC-Davis. I am examining poverty policy and credential seeking. I cover highered debates at Slate and write about inequality, race, gender from time to time.
2)http://www.gradientlair.com/ written by Trudy (@thetrudz) From her bio:
I’m a 34-year-old Black woman who identifies as Jamaican Black (yes, Black is the noun, H/T to Nikki Giovanni). I am cisgender and identify as an ace; asexual, heteroromantic to be exact. I am a Womanist who includes Black feminism and intersectional feminism in my social justice work and writing, but Womanism most accurately speaks to my collective sociopolitical framework for anti-oppression praxis. (I reject the use of “social justice” as a dismissive label when I happen write about my personal life.) Politically, I identify as neither Republican (barf) nor Democrat (Zzz). My political leanings are very Left, but that includes intersectionality and a plethora of perspectives, not solely raceless conversations about class. I identify as an agnostic atheist but still very connected to Black culture in most ways though zero interest in monotheisms and I try to have nuanced perspective on non-Eurocentric, Afrocentric theisms and deities. Though I am an atheist, I am not interested in White supremacist atheism either.
I am college-educated. I have a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and I completed 2 years of additional graduate work in Psychology and Mental Health Counseling. I studied race, gender and adolescent mental health/education and I have a lot of interest in how media/culture impact this. I studied Behavioral and Social Sciences at the baccalaureate level. (It’s a NO on pursuing a Ph.D.)
3)http://criticalspontaneity.com/ written by Suey (@suey_park). Short bio: “Freelance Writer. Organizer. Graduate Student.”
4)http://nataliereednewblog.wordpress.com/ newly started by Natalie Reed (@nataliereed84). From her bio:
Natalie Reed is a queer trans grrl, (…)-survivor, former addict, writer and activist currently living in Vancouver, BC. This is a space for thoughts and writing on feminism, gender theory, trans and queer rights, rape/abuse issues, addiction and drug issues, other social justice concerns such as sex worker and prisoners’ rights, and also pop culture, comics and other stuff, as it occurs to her. Intersections of various political and cultural issues are a particular interest.
5)http://colorlines.com/ which is a news site “where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis. Colorlines is published by Race Forward, a national organization that advances racial justice through research, media and practice.”
This post really should have happened last Monday, at the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, which was Nov 11th – 17th. So I massively failed there. OTOH there’s really never such a thing as the wrong time to make people aware of an axis of oppression, the consequences of that oppression, and the way in which it is being fought and the ways in which allies can make themselves useful.
November 20th specifically is Trans Day of Remembrance, a day to honor the memory of victims of lethal transphobic violence. GLAAD publishes a long but probably non-exhaustive list memorializing trans people who were murdered every year. They are mostly women, and most of them are women of color. Monica at Transgriot wrote two amazing blog posts on this. 238 names is about remembrance being not just passive experience of mourning, but about the active anger, about being “fed up” with all the things that lead up to there being over 200 trans people being murdered and needing this commemoration; Thinking About The Girls Like Us Who Didn’t Get A TDOR Memorial is about memorializing trans women who were killed before there was ever a TDoR. Another amazing post on the Transgender Day of Remembrance was written by Emily at Planting Rainbows. In her post Al Heyt for Transgender Day of Remembrance, she applies a Jewish tradition to the act of remembrance, transforming it from an act of mere listing and memorializing of names to an act of recognition of the sociocultural patterns we all engage in and with that lead to these deaths and to other violent acts against trans people.
What TDoR unfortunately also often is, is the one and only day a year that cis people remember victims of anti-trans violence at all. And I’m not excluding myself from that, since I’ve been extremely neglectful in writing about anti-trans violence and also about the trans-eliminationist sociocultural patterns that make that violence common, invisible, and socially acceptable to the point of being able to walk away from it unpunished.
I have, for one example, not written about the clusterfuck going on in California (and Colorado), in which the passage of a law giving students the right to the use of sex-segregated facilities in accordance with their gender identity, rather than listed gender has caused transphobes (primarily as represented by the ex-gay group Pacific Justice Institute) to start a prolonged and toxic shitfit to attempt to a)stop the law from taking effect in January, and b)put it on the 2014 ballot in an attempt to repeal it by popular vote. Transadvocate has been writing about this for months, documenting the lies and assertions that posit the very presence of trans children as a threat to cis people; the support for the anti-AB1266 campaign by trans-exclusive feminists; the fraud and scaremongering involved in gathering signatures for the repeal; etc. This clusterfuck? Prime example of what trans-eliminationist sociocultural patterns look like: it’s a law protecting small children from discrimination, but the very presence of those children is interpreted as violence against cis people. This isn’t the only example of course; they gay-panic defense is a more well-know version of this. There are many other, subtle as well as extremely blatant patterns that make up our anti-trans culture (some of which are described in the essay from Planting Rainbows linked above). Trans-eliminationism functions in many ways that parallel rape culture: where rape culture creates an environment in which rape is the victim’s fault and rape is minimized or not allowed to be recognized as rape, and consequently rape ends up very common, invisible, and consequence-free for the perpetrator (but double-victimizing for the victims), trans-eliminationism creates an environment in which the trans identity is being seen as an attack, moving victim-blaming further still, to the point where a trans person is definitionally excluded from innocence (thus re-framing all anti-trans aggression as self-defense, but all self-defense by trans people as aggression, as happened for example in CeCE McDonald’s case). And of course, trans people and especially trans women have to live in a culture that’s both a rape culture and a trans-eliminationist culture.
So: let’s remember the victims of anti-trans violence. And let’s also act to distrupt and eventually destroy the toxic patterns that make up trans-eliminationist culture, so that there will be fewer and fewer such victims in the future.
The well-known and influential radical feminist Gloria Steinem has written an apology (of sorts) about her past anti-trans writing.
On the one hand, she’s AFAIK the only well-known TERF who’s ever bothered to do even that much; on the other hand, the apology follows a notpology script just a tad too well*: she blames any harm caused on the internet, devotes most of the essay to explaining why she didn’t mean harm, and phrases the apology-line as very close to the standard “I’m sorry you were offended” notpology, saying “I’m sorry and sad if any words floating out there from the past seem to suggest anything other than support, past and present”. And then there’s the problem noted by activist Janet Mock in a tweet earlier today:
[Janet Mock @janetmock
Not once in the op-ed does @GloriaSteinem write “trans women.” Doing so would recognize the fact that trans women are women. #girlslikeus]
Further, Toni D’Orsay points out that Steinem did more than write an essay. She actively contributed to the inclusion of TERFs into a feminism that had until then accepted trans individuals**:
IT wasn’t until Daly and similarly like minded lesbian separatists started getting really loud, really angry, and really offensive that trans people became an issue.
They did that at first from outside the mainstream of radical feminism.
Steinem was one of the people who helped to bridge that divide. Who worked to secure that change so that lesbian women could be included, and one of the ways she did that was to bring in Daly’s work and Raymond’s work into the awareness of mainstream readers through the vehicle of MS magazine and the New Yorker.
Monica Roberts at TransGriot similarly expands on Steinem’s actual contributions to cissexism:
Because you referred to SRS surgeries multiple times as ‘mutilation’, it gave credibility to the 1980 paper that Raymond wrote to Congress that led to SRS being eliminated from Medicare and Medicaid coverage and the insurance company medical exclusions on trans related health care.
It co-signed the anti-trans attitudes in feminist circles that have led to the suffering and deaths of far too many trans people. It led to trans people being cut out of desperately needed LGBT human rights legislation in the 80s, 90’s and early 2k’s.
Still, she said something that wouldn’t come out of the mouth of a dedicated trans-exclusive feminist; she said that “transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their health care decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make.” That is a big admission. An admission that she will, however, have to follow up with real deeds to undo the damage she’s caused and use her influence in feminism and in society as a whole to fight for the rights and acceptance of trans people; including trans women. Probably the simplest thing to do right now (for example) would be to sign the Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism. And Monica Roberts provides another (non-exhaustive) list of actions for Steinem to take:
Lobby with the trans community in Washington DC for a trans inclusive ENDA. Call out the trans exclusionary radical feminists and help us get the Southern Poverty Law Center to declare them as a hate group. Declare there is no room in feminism for anti-trans hatred and bigotry. As a Smith alum you can help us ensure that your alma mater puts admissions policies in place that allow qualified trans feminine students to enroll there.
Then, of course, there’s the other toxic effects of her paricular flavor of feminism. She’s yet to even do this kind of acknowledgment in the context of her anti-sex-work activism. She’s still promoting the Rescue Industry, and just today she tweeted support for a petition to get the UN to alter its stand (which is based on research and on listening to sex workers) on the decriminalization of sex work:
— Gloria Steinem (@GloriaSteinem) September 30, 2013
[Gloria Steinem @GloriaSteinem
United Nations: #ListenToSurvivors — don’t jeopardize efforts to prevent #sextrafficking http://tinyurl.com/m8chxo5 ]
Overall, I’d say this is a babystep in the right direction. Not something she should be given any ally-cookies for, since it still fails to acknowledge the entirety of the harm done as a result of her anti-SRS work and her promotion of TERFs in feminism, and doesn’t so much as acknowledge that there’s anything wrong with any of her sex-work-prohibitionism. At this speed***, she’ll likely be dead before she arrives at a genuine apology for all of it; and even if not, many trans people and sex workers are going to suffer and die before she ever gets around to undoing the damage she helped/helps cause to them.
***Trigger Warning: TERF reactions to Steinem’s op-ed***
However, even this microscopic step forward has pissed off other TERFS. Maybe if they’ll now spend their time sniping more at each other, and less at trans women and trans rights activists, that would be an improvement [/wishful thinking]. Examples:
[Incendiary Lover @incendiarylover
absolutely devastated & pissed that @GloriaSteinem has opted to erase women & lesbians w/transjacktivist sell out #radfem #cottonceiling]
[Actual Dykes @ActualDykez
As Lesbians, we feel @GloriaSteinem has no idea what is happening to Lesbians under Transgenderism #cottonceiling http://fb.me/6CR6zgeZT ]
[E. Hungerford @ehungerford
Gloria Steinem adopts #neolib identity politics as a means to end oppression against women. WHAT? GENDER hurts women http://goo.gl/XkcFTO ]
– – – – – – – – –
*also, I’m thinking “twin-spirited” is a mangling of “two-spirit”, the term adopted by North American tribes to describe gender minorities. It bugs me that she didn’t bother to even do a google-search to get this right (I did, to make sure “twin-spirited” isn’t an accepted alternative, or some other concept I hadn’t heard of).
**please do read the entire essay, it’s eyeopening if you’re not familiar with the history of and current actions by TERFs in feminism! the linky again. And also read the TransGriot piece in its entirety: linky again
***the text in question**** was written over 36 years ago, and supposedly she only now realizes that it’s criticism of SRS might get interpreted as being anti-SRS, even though it was part of the discourse that led to SRS (and other even vaguely transitiony medical treatments) being dropped from public aid and private insurance, as Monica mentions in her piece. Snails and glaciers would be insulted by a comparison.
****which also describes mutilation of intersex babies as “rescue”. Jesus Fucking Christ. Has she apologized for that yet?!
an oddly large number of important supreme court decisions happened in the last few weeks. Instead of commenting on them individually and separately, I decided to put them all together; I don’t think it’s possible to get a decent idea of where the U.S. is heading, legally speaking.
1)United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry — These are the DOMA and Prop8 cases, respectively. The most important positive bit here is that in states where gay marriage is legal, gay married couples will now be treated the same as straight married couples at the federal level. The major bad part is that the way these two cases were handled, state-level bans on gay marriage are still perfectly legal, and states don’t need to acknowledge other states’ marriage laws. Basically, they turned gay marriage into a “states rights” issue. Still, this is at least 2 steps in the right direction: end to federal-level discrimination of already legal gay marriages, and the death of Prop * (and therefore restoration of gay marriage in California), but int he case of Prop 8, at a very high price, because the whole “standing” thing is arbitrary and can be used in really shitty ways to deny people access to courts.
2)Shelby County v. Holder and Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona — These are the decisions that (at least for now) defanged the Voting Rights Act and are very likely going to lead to massive voter disenfranchisement: while the court didn’t strike down the pre-clearance provisions(i.e. the requirement that certain states must submit to federal oversight and can’t change shit about their voting rules w/o the federal “go ahead”) themselves, it killed the Section that defined which states/counties/whatever the pre-clearance provisions apply to. So right now, they don’t apply anywhere, until Congress gets their act together (lol) to create a new formula “justified by current needs”. On the one hand, that sounds reasonable, because there’s many places in the US right now that are threatening voters’ rights that are not covered by the original formula, so the formula seems insufficient for modern needs. On the other, it only sounds reasonable to claim that the formula is “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day” if you believe the BS about how “things have changed dramatically” in the South, meaning that the states who had Jim Crow laws then wouldn’t happily revert to whites-only voting if given the chance.
Which brings us to the second case noted above, which on the surface looks like a win because it invalidated one part of Arizona’s ID law; but if you look deeper, you’ll note that it pretty much describes a method of getting around the ruling. Plus, apparently, the supreme court just decided that the constitution only allows Congress “to regulate how federal elections are held, but not who may vote in them”. So discriminatory restrictions are A-OK, as long as you’re not on the currently non-existent list of entities subject to pre-clearance. :-/
Definitely a GIANT step back; wouldn’t be so bad if the US had a reasonable and functional Congress that could quickly provide a more updated formula. But then if that’s how the US Congress worked, this problem wouldn’t have occurred in the first place, since the formula would already have been adapted to modern needs (which would still include most of the South, but now with added “OMG teh illegalz are voting!!!” ID-issuing states.
3)Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — this is a case dealing with affirmative action. It basically says that a university cannot simply declare that it needs affirmative action in its admission process to increase diversity; rather, it needs to show, in the court of law, that it doesn’t have other, non-race-based, means of achieving greater diversity. Since that didn’t happen, the case was kicked back to a lower court so that the lower court could make that determination. That decision does two good things: one, it reaffirms the importance of diversity and its validity as a rationale for how to weigh admission applications; two, it reaffirms that the constitution doesn’t demand colorblindness at all costs, i.e. that an exception for remedying racial injustices embedded in society does exist. Given the make-up of the current Supreme Court (see: Scalia and “racial entitlements”), that alone is surprising and counts as a victory. Still, it may make the continued use of affirmative action a lot more difficult in the future. For now, I’m counting this one as not moving us either direction.
4) University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar and Vance v. Ball State University — these are both workers’ rights cases, specifically worker protection and rights in relation to the Civil Rights Act. The first case is about workers being protected from retaliation by the employer after complaining about discrimination; the second case is about when an employer is liable for discrimination. The ruling in the former says that a worker has to prove that the sole reason for being discriminated was retaliation (good fucking luck with that; an employer needs to come up with only one other plausible reason, and they’re off the hook). The ruling in the latter states that an employer is only automatically liable for a case of discrimination when the person doing the discriminating has the direct ability to hire, fire, or promote the discriminated against person (e.g. racially motivated negative performance reviews don’t count; harassment doesn’t count; always being assigned to be the person who makes the coffee in meetings doesn’t count). Both decisions are massive losses of workers’ rights against discrimination and harassment.
5)Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International — This case was about a foreign aid rule that stated that organizations receiving money from the US to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria had to be strictly against prostitution; meaning that sex worker’s rights groups and those dealing with HIV/AIDS prevention for sex workers weren’t given a penny even though they are one of the most at-risk populations. The Supreme Court ruled against the constitutionality of that rule. This is good. It’s narrow, because it only applies to broad issues not directly subject to the funding, meaning (in more familiar terms) that not allowing abortion as part of family planning when using federal family planning funds is still ok, but demanding a wholesale anti-abortion position from recipients wouldn’t be; so demanding an anti-prostitution position from recipients has been declared a violation of the 1st Amendment. Still, this is a good step forward, and a HUGE one in terms of actually helping marginalized people.
6)American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant — this one is about arbitration agreements (about one between corporations, but according to the Supreme Court, corporations are people, so…); basically it concluded that a contract that precludes class-action arbitration or lawsuits is valid and therefore class action suits are forbidden if you signed one. Specifically, the argument that you can’t defend your claim b/c it’s too expensive for an individual is not a legally acceptable reason to void a contract.
And I’m willing to bet you’ve signed at least one contract forbidding either class action suits or forcing arbitration (e.g.: paypal has one).
Giant step backwards for worker rights and also for consumer rights.
7)Salinas v. Texas — 5th Amendment case, specifically about the “right to remain silent” and not have that taken as evidence of guilt. The Supreme Court decided that you can’t just clam up and assume that this will protect you. Apparently, you need to state, for the record, that the reason you’re shutting up is that you’re pleading the 5th, because apparently intent is what matters, not the right not to be forced to incriminate yourself (and now, that rule even applies when you’ve not been informed of this fact i.e. when you haven’t been read your Miranda rights cuz you’re not being arrested); therefore, officially, the dude in this case didn’t even use the 5th Amendment. And we still lucked out with this horrible result, because if the court had actually decided to consider the actual constitutionality of the case, we’d be discussing whether your silence can be used against you even if you do plead the 5th as long as you’ve not been arrested; and at least Scalia and Thomas very much think that you can only remain silent and not have that used against you is if you’ve been officially arrested and therefore didn’t “volunteer” to talk to cops nor can leave whenever you want to (how one could leave or not-volunteer to talk to cops when that behavior could now be used against you is a mystery to me).
Bad result, and definitely a step backward, but I don’t actually know much about the standard M.O. of cops to know how much of one. If it has until now not been the case that simple refusal to voluntarily talk to people (or leave, or say “i won’t say anything more without a lawyer, or whateverthefuck) could be used as evidence for guilt in court, then this permission to do so will have horrible effects on people and people’s rights; if cops and courts have already been doing this anyway, and the court case was an attempt at a novel defense from that behavior, then this changes nothing but “merely” enshrines a certain behavior in law; that would be a much smaller step back.
8)Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl — this is a very complicated adoption case, so I’m gonna actually talk about it in its own blog-post. ATM, I’m just going to note that
a)the kid is NOT actually going back to the people who were trying to adopt her, even if it sided with their interpretation of which NDN children the ICWA applies to. That’s because the people who wanted to adopt “baby Veronica” hadn’t yet done so, and tribes have priority rights in placing children who are (eligible to be) members of their tribe, and baby Veronica is definitely a member of the Cherokee Nation (you can ignore the BS about how she’s “1% Cherokee”, because that’s not how it works; the Cherokee Nation don’t consider themselves a race but a nation, and the kid qualifies for citizenship).
b)The court ruled that the IWCA didn’t apply in the original case so the bio-father didn’t have overriding rights to custody, but now there is an established residence with the tribe, so NOW it might apply, and a new case will likely be required to sort this shit out.
c)Regardless of the details, choosing the narrowest definition of the IWCA is definitely a step back for tribal rights at least; and could set a horrible precedent in which NDN kids taken away at birth wouldn’t be considered eligible for the protection under the IWCA.
Overall judgment: recent Supreme Court cases have set back the rights of marginalized people massively: the exceptions were DOMA and the sex worker case, but these exceptions can’t and shouldn’t overshadow the regressive and oppressive trend.
As Naima Washington’s blog-post on Black Skeptics noted, these sort of events tend to be decried as “balkanization”, “dividing the Movement”, or similar crap:
when we ask everyone in the secular community to celebrate along with us, and we set aside one day out of the entire year to do so, there’s a problem! Last year, some very intelligent and insightful atheists declared efforts to organize a Day of Solidarity for Black Non-believers as segregation! Those same people are otherwise dead silent about the segregation, hostility, and alienation directed towards black atheists within the secular community year-round.
This is bullshit.
What events like the Day of Solidarity, the Women in Secularism conference, the African Americans for Humanism conference, etc. do is a)discuss issues not given much space or weight in the “general” (rea:, male, white, straight, cis dominated) conferences, groups, or writings; and b)highlight speakers and activists not given much space in the same “general” venues. To complain about them because we “shouldn’t have to” have such separate events is a lousy, blinkered argument for not having such events, or not supporting them. After all, we “shouldn’t have to” have skeptics or atheist conferences either, since that’s how all people ideally should deal with the world anyway, right?
So on that note, here’s my (admittedly measily) list of black atheists, skeptics, and nonbelievers that write stuff everyone should read:
Bridget R. Gaudette, contributor to Black Nones, blogger at Freethoughtify and Emily Has Books; she also currently has a kickstarter going for her next book: Grieving for the Living, so go contribute!!
Ian Cromwell, also a contributor to Black Nones, blogger at The Crommunist Manifesto
Anthony Pinn, author of African American Humanist Principles and The End of God Talk
Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat and the forthcoming Godless Americana, contributing blogger at Black Skeptics
G. Andrews AKA Flexx, blogger at Human2O
This time, the link roundup is going to be tiny, and about good, current causes to donate to. That’s because I’m broke until my January payments finally deign to come in, and therefore this is the best I can do just now.
1)Black Skeptics Los Angeles have created scholarships for “college-bound Los Angeles Unified School District students in South Los Angeles. Preference will be given to students who are in foster care, homeless, undocumented and/or LGBTQ”: link
2)This trans woman is asking for donations to fund her SRS because she needs some form of reconstructive genital reconstruction, one way or the other, because she assaulted, which resulted in permanent and painful damage to her genitals; and of course the SRS route isn’t covered by insurance: link
…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.
– – – – – – – – – –
*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.
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.
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.
– – – – – – – – – –
*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.