Imagine for a second

I just said this in a comment, and now I want to say it more conspicuously.

Imagine for a second what it would be like to have total strangers cross-examining every trivial remark you’ve ever made in an effort to find things you said that could be seen as politically suspect in some way.

High vibe

Are you eating high vibrational food? Are you sure?

The ancient Greeks introduced the world to the concept of energy and its effects on humans, animals, plants and health. We’re all connected spiritually by energy, whether we choose to believe it or not. We all form a part of the circle of life, which revolves in a circular motion with no beginning and no end, particularly when it comes to cooking, eating and respecting our food and where it comes from.

I can think of some beginnings and some ends. [Read more…]

Frankly a lot more thought-provoking

Something Lady Mondegreen said on a post of PZ’s about (unfortunately) me:

I’m getting tired of this assertion that “troubling remarks,” or Ophelia’s perverse desire to listen (without necessarily agreeing) to people who have been declared “known TERFs,” somehow harms trans people or puts them “at risk.” That vague accusation is a good way to justify hyperbolic attacks, and a very good way to shut down discussion, but it’s unconvincing argument.

I’m pretty sure the people who actually beat, rape, and murder trans people are not reading B&W, or asking themselves, “what is gender, really?”

And can we please stop speaking of “trans people” as a monolith, all of whom feel the same way? Over at Butterflies and Wheels, there have been some fascinating threads in which people–trans people (apparently feeling unharmed), cis people, and people who feel neither label applies to them–have discussed their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings about gender. It’s been moving, and frankly a lot more thought-provoking than the didactic but painstakingly inoffensive stuff I gather we’re all supposed to prefer.

See the last para is a compliment to y’all.

Two guest posts in one: Glenn Beck level ass-hattery

First, a comment by themadtapper on The art of the question on July 24:

This is some Glenn Beck level ass-hattery. “I’m just asking questions! Why won’t Ophelia Benson confirm she’s not a transphobe?”

I love how Joe says “it was just the polite way of asking if you are a transmisogynist”. As if anyone, even an actual transmisogynist, would ever answer anything but ‘no’ to that question. No, what Joe was doing was fishing for something to accuse her over. When challenged on the claim that Ditum and Lewis were “obvious bigots” and the assumption that following on Twitter amounted to an endorsement, Joe promptly blocked Ophelia and then lied about her reply. And in true Beck style he took every refusal to play his game as an admission of guilt to an accusation that anyone with a cursory knowledge of Ophelia’s posting history would know is false. And sadly, just like Beck, he gets what he wants even if you don’t give him what he wants. In come a parade of people to make posts about how hard Ophelia is trying to avoid the question. “Why, she MUST have something to hide after all, since she won’t answer the question!” Or, you know, she knows perfectly well that no answer will satisfy anyway. Because an answer is not what’s wanted. Any answer denying guilt will be met with further interrogation and insinuation, and the refusal to play (whether immediate or after fatigue and frustration set in) will be declared an admission of guilt. [Read more…]

Divorce status

What is the divorce status? It’s in abeyance for now, because I was very strongly urged to make it so.

But I still very much want to leave. I’m going to set up a Patreon account, and if I get a few subscribers, that will help make it possible. (Imagine B&W with no ads again!) I want to leave because several network colleagues have ostentatiously attacked me, not simply as someone they disagree with, but as a bad harmful dangerous person. They consider me a taint, a pollution, a toxin, and that is obviously very bad for a network of this kind. I don’t want to blog on a network where a small but vocal group of fellow bloggers think I’m a contaminant.

We don’t have a rule against a group of bloggers ganging up to ostracize and demonize one blogger. I thought (without noticing I thought it until recently) we did have a tacit rule of that kind, but I’ve learned that we don’t. We don’t have a rule, but what we do have is reality. The reality is that if a group singles out one blogger and goes after her for thought-crime and deviationism, that blogger is going to leave.

What do I mean, thought-crime and deviationism?

This for example from a comment by Jason on his post attacking me:

I think she said particularly impolitic things in particularly impolitic ways, regurgitated damaging arguments handed to her by TERFs that rightly got peoples’ hackles up, and I think she personally does not understand that at least some of the vitriol thrown her way is because some of those positions she’s taken are, actually, expressly damaging to trans folk. And the way she finally acquiesced to saying yes was so loaded with “but but gender is weird” — as though anyone was arguing gender WASN’T — is further damaging and undercuts her yes in a way that looks like a YES-BUT, which always reads as a NOT REALLY. And I am aware that she keeps saying over and over that she’s answered “yes”, but she’s doing so much lashing out at the genuine, nuanced criticism, and so much cozying up to the TERFs that everyone ELSE recognizes as having it out for trans folk, that it is perfectly reasonable for trans folk to want to steer clear even where people who are not trans might want to continue to engage.
To modify my first sentence though, I think my like and trust for Ophelia Benson is eroding the more she refuses to acknowledge that she might have done wrong and that anyone is at all legitimately hurt here. And every clarification — even if a step in the right direction — is loaded with paranoia about snakes in the grass and poisoners and witch-hunters who just want to attack her, that no amount of nuance in the argument is going to get through to her.

That’s not how colleagues should talk about each other in public – not in any organization where I want to work, at least. The main reason I wanted to join Freethought blogs when it was first set up was because it appeared to be a great group of people. I loved working solo but then once the network was created, I didn’t want to be left out of it. I thought it would be fun to have colleagues, and it was. It’s not fun any more, now that a few of them have lined up to talk about me the way Jason did there. If it’s not fun any more, why on earth would I stay? I could decide to stay for the good of the network, but since it’s the network that’s portraying me as a contaminant, I’m not motivated to do that. I’m getting all the shit part of having colleagues, and none of the good part.

From Halifax to Harrogate

And now for something completely different, a pop culture interlude. Last Tango in Halifax – any watchers here?

I don’t think much of the latest season, season 3. Too much silly melodrama and way too little daily life, which is what it’s best at. I got bored. It’s funny that melodrama can be boring while daily life can be enthralling, but there it is, at least for me.

Still. It’s better than most things. Women front and center, and talking about lots of things besides a man. It passes the Bechdel test in the first few minutes, every time.

And then it’s Yorkshire.

And it’s Derek Jacobi, the best Hamlet ever in the history of everything.

And Nicola Walker, and Nina Sosanya.

Guest post: I yet still wished that children were born undifferentiated

Guest post by Tigger the Wing, originally a comment on a Facebook thread, published with permission.

To me, it is whatever the person calling themselves a woman says it is, for them and them alone.

What society says a woman is, fits few (if any) real people.

We need to have this discussion, and we need to do it without attacking other people for perceived transgressions (or even trans aggressions. Ouch. Sorry).

Ophelia has been entirely honest – she acknowledges that if a person says she’s a woman, then she is a woman. And she also says we need to discuss what is meant by that word ‘woman'; not because of individual women, but because of how wider society treats people that find themselves in that artificial class of ‘womanhood’. [Read more…]


A thing I’ve noticed. There’s a lot of talking past each other here (in this hotly contested discussion, I mean, not on this blog). There’s a  lot of mixing up of slogans and political commitments with attempts to disambiguate words and problematize concepts. The two don’t go well together. I have political commitments, but I also like to try to disambiguate words and problematize concepts.

So, if only “abbeycadabra” had thought to make their question to me a matter of political commitments, I could have answered it, probably the way they were looking for. But they didn’t. And because they didn’t, they pretty thoroughly fucked up my life for the past couple of weeks.

I squandered much too much time today answering endless repetitive pointless questions from two men on Facebook who were making the same mistake. [Read more…]

Guest post: But if such explorations were interrupted

Originally a comment by kevinkirkpatrick on I did say.

It’s said no analogy is perfect; so take this with a grain of salt:

Say I took issue with the legal institution of marriage; and felt it was worth exploring whether our society would be better off massively redefining marriage or, perhaps, doing away with it altogether (I think such a case exists – marriage doesn’t seem to provide benefits, like financial assistance w/ guardianship. to many who need them; while it certainly has some massive rob-the-poor-to-feed-the-rich effects that do our society no good) . Such explorations might entail examinations of romantic couplings vs. friendships; childless couples vs uncoupled guardians; various toxic religious views of marriage; etc., etc. [Read more…]