Guest post: Good wishes

Originally two comments by Julia S on The destroyer of worlds.

I also saw a comment under your name in a blogpost. I was a bit surprised as it was blatantly anti-trans but it seemed reasonable (as in, calm and non-slurry) and used similar language as you so I wasn’t incredulous about its authenticity. I was thinking about writing about or replying to it but decided against it. It’s uncool for someone to impersonate you, if that’s true and you didn’t just change your mind about a distasteful comment. Good wishes, Ophelia.

[I replied: Could you tell me where, please, so that I can do something about it?]

I would tell you if you weren’t such a transphobe (based on what you’ve said here, on this very blog).

The latest ploy

Someone is impersonating me to leave terrible transphobic comments on blogs.

If you have a blog and you get a comment from “opheliabenson@freethoughtblogs.com” that’s not from me, it’s an impersonator.

Please share that information.

The land of ambiguity

Ok. It’s too late for this (but then it probably always was), because there are a lot of people just hell-bent on spotting a TERF in the bushes and not changing their view no matter what; the well is thoroughly poisoned and is going to stay that way. The poisoner oolon, who went to Pharyngula to work up the troops against me yesterday, is one such; that dude wants scalps, period.

But there are, I’m told, people who are just plain hurt and upset, especially trans people, and I don’t want to hurt people. Therefore I’ll try to clarify what I meant by refusing to answer yes or no.

(It’s like Bill Clinton and “is” – that was treated as a joke, but there actually is more than one meaning to “is.” Rumsfeld and his unknown unknowns were also treated as a joke, but he too was quite right – it’s only a pity he didn’t take the unknown unknowns a lot more seriously.)

There’s a difference, for instance, between an ontological is and a political is.

The more I think about the ontology of gender, the less I think I understand it. It’s slippery. That makes it impossible to answer yes/no questions about it.

But politically? Do you mean, will I take trans people’s word for it? Will I use their right names and pronouns? Of course I will. Do I want to make them jump through hoops to prove something to me? Of course not.

Do I get that trans people are severely marginalized, and have to jump through kinds of hoops I have no idea of? Hell yes.

I have thoughts and questions about gender, broadly speaking; gender as it affects all of us, and women in particular. I don’t think those thoughts are transphobic.

Jenora Feuer’s new guest post on the subject is illuminating, I think. Read it in tandem with this.

Guest post: We’re not trying to draw bright line boundaries at all

Originally a comment by Jenora Feuer on We’re going to end up putting feminist intellectual history through its own extinction event.

I can’t comprehend what it means to “know that you are male/female,” because I don’t particularly “feel” my gender.

Me either.

There was a comment at We Hunted the Mammoth a few weeks back (I commented on it here before) where someone said that they had found two different groups of people who really didn’t ‘get’ trans issues intuitively. One was the group of people who strongly identified with their gender, assumed everybody else was like that, and therefore that anybody who didn’t identify with their gender was wrong in some way. The other was the group of people who don’t strongly identify with any gender at all, and don’t really understand what it’s like to have a strong identity, particularly one that doesn’t match your physical body. Both of these groups have the same apparent problem on the outside, but completely different ways of getting there, and need different approaches. Especially since the first group is often personally invested in the concept of a gender binary, while the second group will consider the binary to be a default assumption if they haven’t thought about it, but they don’t really care about it to the same extent.

I get the impression most of the original TERF types were in the first group, or at least certainly acting like it: they were being explicit gatekeepers to the concept of ‘being a woman’, drawing boundaries, and in general acting like a mirror image of the problem they were ostensibly fighting against. But a lot of the people here I’ve seen here (including myself) are in the second group; we may make mistakes, but we’re not trying to draw bright line boundaries at all and don’t really intuitively grasp why other people are. Which often puts us on the wrong side of a lot of different lines that other people DO insist on, just because we don’t necessarily see them.

Guest post: We’re going to end up putting feminist intellectual history through its own extinction event

Originally a comment by A surprise to many on The art of the question.

What the hell is so difficult about a yes-and-no answer to the “trans women are women” question? For some, perhaps even most, purposes, yes, absolutely. For other purposes (women’s reproductive health, family policy, FGM), no.

This is no different from any other socially constructed group identity. Is Barack Obama African American? Yes. And no. Is the Nigerian immigrant who runs the pizza place near my job? Yes. And no. Is someone with a Jewish father a Jew? Yes. And no. Are messianic Jews Jewish? Yes. And no.

Am I a woman? Yes. And no. Even though I was identified female at birth and have gestated and lactated, there are ways in which I do not feel particularly comfortable being labeled “woman” and in which some people would classify me as not-a-woman. Being a woman is a social identity grounded in part, but only in part, on physical characteristics. It’s not a you-are-or-you-aren’t category. [Read more…]

In some photos there is a shackle on one of her limbs

Ashley Ford interviewed Nona Faustine for Elle.

Nona Faustine’s photographs are blowing up on Facebook and no one is more surprised than her. Born and raised in Brooklyn, with a distinct city accent, her tone is as light as her work is somber. In the “White Shoes” photo series, Faustine appears in the places where African slaves were bought, sold, and traded in 1620’s New York City. Her expression is solemn, in some photos there is a shackle on one of her limbs, and aside from her shoes, she is completely naked.

Go to the article to see some of the pictures. I saw the first one on Twitter a few days ago; it’s very powerful.

I like to think that every piece of art has an inciting incident, some happening or realization that plants the seed of its own creation. What would you say was the inciting incident for your “White Shoes” series?

I always wanted to make a really powerful piece of work, and there are things you carry with you throughout your life: ideas, incidents, and history. The story of my life is a family impacted by the fact that I had a great-grandmother who was an enslaved African, and my mother grew up with her. She told [my mother] all the stories of her life. Then there was me, being a born and bred New Yorker, discovering the African Burial Ground and realizing there was slavery here in this city. [Read more…]

Comment-liking crime

Ew. Now they’re monitoring what comments I like on Facebook, and blabbing about them on Twitter. It’s exactly like the slimers – they too obsessively monitor every word of mine that they can get access to. It’s creepy and disgusting and loathsome.

watchers

Where’s the brain bleach.

Guest post: Back in fundie-land

Originally a comment by A Masked Avenger on The art of the question.

M. A. Melby @11:

As a recovering fundie, I can tell you that there’s only one answer to a question that ends with, “…yes or no?”, and that’s “Fuck you.”

Lawyers get to say “…yes or no?” because you’re compelled by the court to answer. You’ll go to jail for contempt if you don’t. And you’ll face contempt if you answer a yes/no question with a question, or a long answer, or a non-response. [Unfortunately] the lawyer is allowed to make such demands, because they are empowered to compel a response, and to punish you for your refusal. [Read more…]