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Mar 03 2014

Quick, while I have the TERFs and MRAs distracted, go solve all the problems!

Nearly twenty years ago, when I was a sixteen year old wide-eyed innocent who believed the human race is generally good, I was victimized by someone’s lies. I told the story on this blog in hopes of achieving some measure of catharsis for myself, and providing real support to others for whom the same sort of lie had damaged their lives. However, I recognized later that the reason I got off so easy actually meant many people who were really hurt would never see justice, and that this was a problem with society that I would have traded more personal pain to see righted.

Today, someone who ostensibly agrees with me on the existence of the overarching problem with society threw those lies back in my face, attacking me because I disagreed with her that transgender folks should be protected from her attacks, in an effort to poison my Google search results for my name. That someone is Cathy Brennan. And she’s in totally appropriate company in the attempt at poisoning my search results — the same slander is also posted on A Voice For Men.

To catch everyone up a little less obliquely: when I was 16, my girlfriend accused me of rape. No, “accused” is too strong — she started a rumour that I’d raped her. This caused me considerable emotional distress that lingers to this day, but helped to inform me about the actuality of rape. Years and years later, I’m a blogger on the internet, and I am willing to fight the rape culture that I see around me — one where people can rape with impunity, and nobody seems to take rape accusations seriously at all.

Then the skeptical community undergoes something of a sea change where people who otherwise are skeptical of religion, of pseudoscience, and of shoddy economics, suddenly realizes it has a gigantic blind spot when it comes to treatment of women, uncritical acceptance of societally-enforced gender roles, and other aspects of life that to this point they have not examined. A culture wherein Good Old Boys in the so-called “upper echelons” of skeptical society turns out to have had whisper-nets built up warning others about their misdeeds for a very long time; wherein it turns out some have been likely treating the community as a sexual smorgasbord. Specific allegations are brought forth against specific “top men”, and the community — long simmering with rage over the merest possibility that “guys, don’t do that” is an acceptable thing for a woman to say about cold-propositioning drunk women in elevators in the wee hours of the morning in foreign countries — is rent asunder by the possibility that a series of multiply-corroborated accounts of sexual assault might actually have happened, despite the lack of evidence sufficient to put the person responsible in jail.

I back up the people bringing forth these accusations, explaining that I have sufficient reason to believe nobody involved is lying, especially considering how much social cost bringing forward an accusation of rape actually has. I explain the social cost — the thing that saved me when I was accused was a long-standing erosion of trust and an unfortunate aspect of the story that was easily disproven. The social costs for me had been to that point enormous, but the social costs to her were returned tenfold in that moment.

I further recognized that in my escaping more dire repercussions like, say, actually encountering law enforcement at any point, meant that actual rape was going unpunished. The lies that victimized me meant real victims were being doubly victimized! Stories recounted by victims on the internet, like EEB’s story of her being brutally assaulted by a stranger but being disbelieved by the police, crystallized me on the point that I benefited from rape culture directly, and strengthened my resolve to combat it and right some serious injustices that were being perpetrated in trade for my own comfort. For every one case like mine, there were potentially hundreds of rape cases where the rapists walked.

So I continued blogging about it, supporting rape survivors and questioning rape culture, to the point where I attracted the attention of the Manosphere, and A Voice For Men took it upon themselves to begin the destruction of my reputation via claiming that because I was accused of rape, I must be a rapist “by feminism’s own logic”, since in their mind, feminism claims that anyone accused of rape must be a rapist. They splashed my name across the front page of their site as being an admitted rapist.

Never mind, of course, that I know damn well that false rape accusations happen, and that the problem is rape isn’t generally even investigated. The “Men’s Rights Movement”, Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) who were once mistreated by a woman in perhaps a manner similar to my own, or who once played fast-and-loose with consent and got accused of rape as a result (but obviously nothing happened to their lives since they’re ever present on the internet to complain about their raw deal!) but grabbed that same cover story to protect themselves, have been polarized to fight against rape accusations where rational people might instead fight rape or rape apologetics. They do this as though rape accusations — the only injustice they’ve ever encountered in their hyper-privileged lives — are literally the only actual problems facing society today. They rally together to fight the Great Feminist Cabals that, in their minds’ eye, just want to throw all men in jail for looking at them funny, and they turn feminism into this huge straw dummy fascist state.

They attack me because I fight to have rape taken seriously, despite — no, in fact, because of — my own experience almost two decades ago. And so these MRAs sought to destroy my reputation by Google-bombing my name, associating it directly and inextricably with rape, knowing that someone might look me up, see my name and “rapist” on a website, and assume it absolutely must be true or else it wouldn’t have been published on the internet. And this sort of Google-bombing isn’t even a new tactic for MRAs.

Some months later, I post a petition asking that a judge be recalled after making the absolutely hideous decision to demand a retrial in a case where the physical evidence proved a man raped a Down syndrome woman because she “didn’t act like a victim”.

In my advocacy for social justice causes, I have encountered no single group of people more uniformly demonized than transgender folks. No matter how bad you think you have it, trans folk are scarce enough or closeted enough that it’s nearly impossible to find them — and when they found one another on the internet, some people decided that they had become at that point a threat that needed to be stopped.

One of that particular group of people’s most vocal opponents is the section of movement feminism that believes that trans folk are actually attacking, and attempting to co-opt, feminist spaces. These so-called feminists are helpfully labelled “trans-exclusionary” (per their self-selected name, “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, or “TERFs”), and they hang out at a place called Rad Fem Hub, where feminists who’ve lost the plot of social justice gather to find new ways to victimize trans folks. They also talk there about legitimate feminist concerns, and even often perpetrate real, legitimate cases of that fabled unicorn of hate, “misandry”, so it’s not entirely an anti-trans site — but it sure looks that way to a trans person. Needless to say, they are the flip side of the MRA coin.

My posting of the petition — which I wholeheartedly support, obviously, seeing as the post is still up and my signature still valid — was slightly unfortunate, insofar as the person who created and was promoting the petition has had a history of attacking trans folks. I know of at least one other instance where the queen of the TERfs, payday loan lawyer Cathy Brennan of Gender Identity Watch and Name The Problem among other hate sites, had used a petition to discover the real identity of a trans person and then out that identity on her GIW site (a practice known in hacker circles as “doxxing”, as in “dropping dox”, as in “providing documentation of a person’s meatspace identity”). I further know that the TERFs at GIW, RadFemHub and elsewhere have a long history of digging up dirt on people who disagree with them and doing what they can to hurt them — contacting real-life friends, associates, or in at least one case the medical professionals charged with taking care of these trans folks. So, I was left with no choice but to post a warning on my post linking to that petition. I urged trans folk to use their own discretion before signing, knowing that other trans folk had been compromised in much the same way.

After putting up that post, I questioned @SisterTrinity on Twitter, the TERF who’d created the petition, asking if she was indeed anti-trans as reports (and links, and her twitter feed) suggested. She evaded and attacked and misconstrued the point of the question as some sort of unprompted attack, or as my withdrawing support for the petition, or of my targeting feminists explicitly. The situation escalated as I held my ground that while I supported the petition, I could not in good conscience ask my trans friends to sign, knowing they would risk having their identities compromised. I simply couldn’t live with myself if such a thing happened as a direct result of my actions. So my warning stayed up.

And Cathy Brennan herself got into the mix, calling me an MRA.

In TERF parlance, they mean that I’m advocating for the rights of men to impinge upon womens’ spaces, by advocating that trans folk be treated with basic human dignity. Because in a TERF’s mind, trans folk are comprised exclusively of trans women, and because in a TERF’s mind a trans woman is a deranged man attempting to pretend to be a woman to steal an assigned-female-at-birth’s feminine birthright (at this point in the narrative I can’t help but think “THEY TOOK OUR JORBS!”). So, anyone standing up for trans folk to not be demonized and attacked and outed, must naturally be a MEN’S rights activist. See the rhetorical switcharoo they played there?

But Cathy Brennan then did something strange, and rather interesting (if I can say that dispassionately). She did something that only one other group had done. She accused me of rape on the front page of her site, suggesting that because I’d been accused, I must be a rapist. On the same site, she attacks other pro-trans feminists, she attacks trans folk, she attacks cis women as supposedly being trans women, inextricably tying trans folks’ “dead names” to their current ones and horrible accusations of crime to people who merely want to protect others from undue harm.

In attacking the same person, in the same way, because that person did something that undercut their views, Cathy Brennan and her TERFs, and Dean Esmay and his MRAs, became inextricably linked. They are two sides of the same coin. Some of you already knew that, but this is just blatant enough that it can be used as a teaching moment.

TERFs to the left of me, MRAs to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

I’ll draw their fire while I can. They can’t even really hurt me that badly — I stand by my history, by my words, by my extensive backlog of advocacy on these topics, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have every privilege working to my advantage. MRAs try to strip rape laws of their feeble teeth, TERFs will attack trans folk and give feminism a bad name, and while I have their attention I’ll draw their fire as much as possible so that they cannot continue to attack everything I hold dear. Every minute they’re on me, they’re not on you, and that, to me, is worth the trouble.

But the place they’re hitting is an emotionally raw one for me, even where they can’t hurt me otherwise. I can only tank for so long and soak so much damage though. While they’re distracted with me, go for the knockout.

54 comments

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  1. 1
    Nentuaby

    AVFM and Bre**an… You are to be commended on the quality of the enemies you keep. :/

  2. 2
    fiendish dire dodo

    How dare you make this about you and your MAN problems, you paternalistic, savior-complex-having swine? And look at him using his vile, disingenuous “not actually having raped anyone” excuse to make comrade Brennan look bad–as if the way he willfully colonizes her spirit-snowflake with his violently penetrative maleness wasn’t all the proof a true Sister needs!

  3. 3
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I argued with TERFs on Twitter and seriously, it’s often impossible to tell them from MRAs.
    Both reduce women to their reproductive organs, both think that penis-having men only want one thing. They just interprete those “facts” differently.

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    My sympathy and support for you if you want it. Jason Thibeault – and also to Ogvorbis on PZ’s blog who is coming under intense and unfair attack at the moment by some sack of shit slimepit troll.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/03/03/oh-lord-the-stupid/#comments

    I can’t comment there to register my disgust and horror at this so I’ll do it here and I’ve clicked on and emailed the monitors there too.

    What this says about the people doing this says it all. Nasty fucken douchebags.

    I don’t always agree with everyone and everything on FTB but this is IMHON criminal cyber bullying that needs to be stopped and treated with zero tolerance and legal sanctions.

    To Ogvorbis – you don’t deserve this sort of abuse and you are a good person. I wish you the best and hope you are okay. Remember this says a fuck of a lot more about them than it does you.

    We aren’t friends and you probably don’t like me much but For Whatever little It May be Worth, you have my respect, sympathy and support here.

  5. 5
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Huh? Duplicate comment detected but not appearing on refresh? Take II :

    ***

    My sympathy and support for you if you want it. Jason Thibeault – and also to Ogvorbis on PZ’s blog who is coming under intense and unfair attack at the moment by some sack of shit slimepit troll.

    freethoughtblogs (dot) com / pharyngula/ 2014/03/03/ oh-lord-the-stupid/ # comments

    I can’t comment there to register my disgust and horror at this so I’ll do it here and I’ve clicked on and emailed the monitors there too.

    What this says about the people doing this says it all. Nasty fucken douchebags.

    I don’t always agree with everyone and everything on FTB but this is IMHON criminal cyber bullying that needs to be stopped and treated with zero tolerance and legal sanctions.

    To Ogvorbis – you don’t deserve this sort of abuse and you are a good person. I wish you the best and hope you are okay. Remember this says a fuck of a lot more about them than it does you.

    We aren’t friends and you probably don’t like me much but For Whatever little It May be Worth, you have my respect, sympathy and support here.

    @ “Jeffrey” there : Talking about disgusting – nothing I’ve seen in years of commenting and lurking on FTB is as disgusting as this.

    You. ,”Jeffrey”*, Are. A. Pathetic. And. Repellent. Sack. Of. Shit.

    * Whatever your true name which I hope will be soon found and exposed so you get some consequences for this shit.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Request please. I would really appreciate it if someone could post my comment here to Ogovorbis and “jeffrey” on Pharyngula since I am banned from commenting there.

    ***
    Ogvorbis – you are a good person and you do NOT deserve this sort of abuse. I wish you the best and hope you are okay. Remember this says a fuck of a lot more about them than it does you.

    We aren’t friends and you probably don’t like me much but For Whatever little It May be Worth, you have my respect, sympathy and support. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

    (I also authorise Jason Thibeault & PZ Myers to forward my email address, meatspace name and any other details on to Ogvorbis if that is of help or desired at their discretion or Ogvorbis’es request.)

    @ “Jeffrey” there : Talking about disgusting – nothing I’ve seen in years of commenting and lurking on FTB is as disgusting as this.

    You. ,”Jeffrey”*, Are. A. Pathetic. And. Repellent. Sack. Of. Shit.

    * Whatever your true name which I hope will be soon found and exposed so you get some consequences for this shit.

  7. 7
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Jason:

    But the place they’re hitting is an emotionally raw one for me, even where they can’t hurt me otherwise. I can only tank for so long and soak so much damage though.

    I’m sorry for everything these people are putting you and others through. I also applaud your desire to take on the brunt of the harassment and I hope that you’ll take care of yourself as well.

  8. 8
    Adam

    Writing an overwrought blogpost in an attempt to justify your attacks on women doesn’t alter the fact that what you are doing is attacking women. It doesn’t provide any justification for those attacks, and for you to continue with this is by definition anti-feminist.

    Please reflect on what it means for a man to be feminist, a feminist ally or pro-feminist. How can you possibly reconcile self-defining as a feminist with attacking women and questioning their feminist credentials?

  9. 9
    sawells

    8:Feminism means treating women as _people_, not as _infallible_, dumbass.

  10. 10
    Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

    Adam @8, respectfully, what the hell are you talking about? How is Jason “attacking” women? You can’t just make statements like that and not back them up with evidence. You sound like those Christians who claim that disagreeing with them = “attacking” them.

  11. 11
    Andrea Vanness

    Adam… fuck off.

    I am a woman, a trans woman and where the fuck are you when the TERF attack me and others like me?

    Oh but when we DEFEND ourselves or our REAL allies come to help us, then we are the evil ones and the ones attacking?

    Shut the fuck up and do some fucking research on this. Brennan had a teenage girl on suicide watch, for fucks sake, and didn’t even cared about her and her two mothers.

    http://bitchmagazine.org/post/the-long-history-of-transgender-exclusion-from-feminism

    http://www.transadvocate.com/unpacking-transphobia-in-feminism_n_9964.htm

    http://theterfs.com/2013/03/02/terf-quotes/

    http://theterfs.com/terfs-trans-healthcare/

  12. 12
    M. A. Melby

    So I know #2 is parody, but is #8?

    It’s so difficult to tell with the RadFem crew.

  13. 13
    M. A. Melby

    I suppose, if I was being fair, I would say TERF and not “RadFem” – but TERFs have soiled the term “RadFem” so thoroughly, that I avoid using the term for myself.

    One correction, TERFs do not call themselves TERF. The term was created by other RadFems a long time ago in order to distance themselves from the transphobic elements within feminism.

    They use the term “gender critical” generally as a self-descriptor and have decided that “TERF is a slur”.

  14. 14
    M. A. Melby

    By the way, as you know – saying that you were “accused” is not libel because that is the truth. However, “Name the Problem” just flat-out called you a rapist on twitter. I made a screen shot. This is libel per se. Even if you don’t want to pursue a case against her; consider filing a complaint:

    http://www.courts.state.md.us/attygrievance/complaint.html

    If there is anything I can do to give you support, let me know.

  15. 15
    Sassafras

    Adam @8:

    How can you possibly reconcile self-defining as a feminist with attacking women and questioning their feminist credentials?

    Why don’t you ask the TERFs that? They regularly attack women and label them as misogynist and anti-feminist (Even if you don’t want to admit that trans women are women, TERFs do the same to any cis woman who supports trans women). They also regularly try to force the labels of straight or bisexual on lesbian women who love trans women. So do you actually believe it’s wrong to attack women, or did you just think you discovered a “clever” rhetorical trick to use on someone doing the right thing?

  16. 16
    geekgirlsrule

    Jason, this lifelong feminist thinks you’re pretty awesome. And Adam is talking out his sphincter. Cathy Brennan and her ilk are a boil on the ass of feminism, and need to be lanced and disinfected, by which I mean exposed for the hate-mongers they are.

    I am uninterested in engaging with bigots, who feel a pressing need to dehumanize other human beings.

    Jason, you rock.

  17. 17
    Adam

    So…just to clarify…my comment was specifically directed towards Jason. It relates to the role that men play in feminism, and particularly to when men who self-identify as feminist criticise/insult/attack feminist women for reasons relating to feminism. My comment wasn’t intended to be any broader than that.

    @10 – Jason has been attacking women. It’s in this blogpost and in others besides. It’s in his Twitter feed. And it’s supported by what he RTs and by his use of .@ at the start of tweets. Further, one woman told him repeatedly that she felt attacked by Jason. Whether or not he agrees that he is attacking her, is this not a moment for a man – and particularly a man who claims to have feminist sensibilities – to back off? But he didn’t – he carried on. And then he wrote a blog about it.

    @11 – Please see the first paragraph of this comment.

    @15 – Please see the first paragraph of this comment.

    Men who claim the label of feminist bother me. They bother me because many of those men use this label as a foundation to then criticise, insult, attack and/or abuse women, because a feminist woman dares to hold feminist beliefs that do not fall into line with what the man believes. That seems pretty anti-feminist to me. And those same men hardly ever seem to criticise, insult, attack and/or abuse other men. I wonder why that might be?

    Whatever men’s role might be in supporting feminism, this surely can’t be part of it. Being divisive and silencing women are the very last things that men need to be doing when they are in feminist spaces or discussions.

  18. 18
    Numenaster

    Adam, you have women on both sides of this issue. Do you think that male allies should stand aside and let the women fight this out? Because that seems to be the only remedy that meets your approval. ,

    But we do have some grounds for choosing a side: only the TERFs are trying to actively do harm. Since defending is not the same as attacking, the side that’s defending is the only one that has ground to claim they are being attacked. And that’s the side Jason is on. So quit trying to get him to stand down, and help stop the attacks.

  19. 19
    geekgirlsrule

    Really, calling someone out on their bigotry is an attack?

    If one does not wish to be called out for being a bigot, perhaps one should not say, do, support bigoted things.

  20. 20
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    What the TERFs are doing is a perversion of rational thinking and social justice, and basic human decency. Misogyny is attacking women because they are women, not just disagreeing with any women no matter what she says or does. Horrible behavior and attitudes don’t get a free pass because you slap a “feminism” sticker on them, and the fact that a man is doing the calling out doesn’t make it invalid by default.

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    I self-identify as an intersectional feminist not because I think I know better than women how to participate, but because I’m on-board with the ideals wrapped up in the label. I’ve had feminists disagree with me that my brand of feminism is appropriate, and I’ve had women feminists tell me that I’m not allowed to self-identify as feminist ever. I’ve likewise had MRAs level all sorts of slurs, from that I’m doing it to get laid, that I’m a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, that I’m a mangina white knight beta pussy-sniffer etcetera etcetera. I’ll take it all in stride because, again, my record, my advocacy, speaks for itself. You want to come at me for what I’m saying about certain activities being moral or immoral? Do it. Come at me. Keep the attention on me. Because while I’m saying your attacks on trans folk are immoral and inhumane, and you’re attacking me as a poor feminist for doing it, you’re not attacking those trans folk any more.

    Keep coming at me. I’m right here. Waving and yelling and jumping. Keep your attention on me. Keep your eyes on my prize.

  22. 22
    jamessweet

    Okay, bending over backwards for Adam here, I can kinda see how, in his eyes, this is an example of a man telling women that they are “doin feminism rong”, which in general is indeed a bad thing. Men need to be careful when approaching those issues, e.g. I wrote a blog post a couple years ago giving my thoughts on the intersection between breastfeeding and feminism, and while I did express an opinion, I was careful to be very circumspect and to acknowledge that ultimately this is something for women to figure out, and that I can’t really critique any woman for her opinion on that issue (though it doesn’t prohibit me from having my own).

    All that said… I think it’s okay to be pretty openly critical of the TERF mindset, and Jason already said exactly why:

    I have encountered no single group of people more uniformly demonized than transgender folks. No matter how bad you think you have it, trans folk are scarce enough or closeted enough that it’s nearly impossible to find them — and when they found one another on the internet, some people decided that they had become at that point a threat that needed to be stopped.

    Anti-trans bigotry isn’t just wrong in some rarified philosophical sense, it is incredibly damaging, nay, devastating, to real people, right here, right now. It’s important enough and life-threatening enough that I think it overrides the general principle that men shouldn’t be telling women how to “do” feminism. In this particular case, it is wrong, manifestly wrong, and it’s crucially important.

  23. 23
    Barb's Wire

    As a fellow canuck and long-time feminist (longer than I care to ever admit), anything that you think I can do or say on your behalf, tell me. I admire your willingness to step into the fray, to advocate for the transgender population who are clearly bullied from several groups and are suffering… and to advocate for women in general against the mra. Both the mra and terfs are dangerous groups intent on doing harm. Most of all I admire your bravery in speaking out, and your willingness to take the heat for it, though that “heat” is highly unfair, cruel and, I’d even say, libelous. I wish I possessed your level of bravery to fight against these bullies.

  24. 24
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    jamessweet:

    Anti-trans bigotry isn’t just wrong in some rarified philosophical sense, it is incredibly damaging, nay, devastating, to real people, right here, right now. It’s important enough and life-threatening enough that I think it overrides the general principle that men shouldn’t be telling women how to “do” feminism. In this particular case, it is wrong, manifestly wrong, and it’s crucially important.

    This. A thousand times THIS.
    -
    Adam, go crawl back to whatever MRA hole you crawled out of.

  25. 25
    Scr... Archivist

    I can only tank for so long and soak so much damage though.

    I cast Shield of Non-Faith on the tank.

  26. 26
    Jackie

    Jason,
    I’m sorry these assholes are directing their powers of assholery toward you. You’re a great guy and you deserve better.

  27. 27
    Jason Thibeault

    Does anyone know if it’s a salient point that I was never actually brought to law enforcement? Is an accusation in the colloquial sense the same as an accusation in the legal sense? I kinda feel like it isn’t — she started a rumour, rather than actually accusing me with the full force of the law (and not even to my face).

  28. 28
    Jason Thibeault

    Then again, to that end, PZ’s grenade post contains an accusation of rape against Michael Shermer, but that at least was public as opposed to the whisper-net I got.

  29. 29
    oolon

    @Adam, I’m going to assume you are not an MRA, especially since that’s Cathy Brennans trick and it’s rather rude. In fact you do a very good impression of what the TERFs honestly believe is a good male ally. Someone who not only will not ever criticise them, but literally cannot without losing ally status. Even when they are being racist, transphobic or whatever else they have planned for a Tuesday night on Twitter. You’ll have to forgive Tony etc for accusing you of being an MRA, you see both the TERFs and you pretty much fit what most of us assume is an MRA straw feminist/ally caricature. They claim all feminists are man hating. They claim all feminists cannot take criticism and accuse them of misogyny for just disagreeing. There is more, but it gets boring, basically it’s a shock to learn that a lot of the extremes MRAs paint all feminists with actually exist!

    For me I’m interested in how you reconcile your decision to listen and parrot one set of women’s interpretation of feminism. Why ignore WoC feminists who are almost universally supportive of trans rights, women, men and non-binary? No offence to Jason but he is not saying anything about Sister Trinity etc that many many cis and trans women feminists have already said, many times. So is he not actually correct to take what the feminists in his circle have to say seriously? They say TERFs like her are being misogynistic, transmisogynistic in fact, and it is good ally behaviour to support trans women. Bit of a bind for you? Or are you given special dispensation from the TERF high command to criticise and disagree with *some* women?

    Interestingly other (TERF) radfem male allies attack (As in strongly criticise) cis and trans women feminists who go against their cadre. How they circle this with the view that criticising women is misogyny I don’t know.
    ( Well I do in the case of trans women, bigotry, but cis women? Who knows! )

  30. 30
    Astrokid.NJ

    Jason,
    Re: And this sort of Google-bombing isn’t even a new tactic for MRAs. where you link to Matt Forney and Cynthia G..
    I am an MRA, and Matt F is not an MRA.
    Here.. he explicitly says he’s going to “bury the MRM” LOL.
    http://mattforney.com/2012/09/10/we-come-not-to-praise-the-mens-rights-movement-but-to-bury-it/

  31. 31
    Numenaster

    So, “no true MRA” then. Thanks for clearing that up.

  32. 32
    leni

    …contacting real-life friends, associates, or in at least one case the medical professionals charged with taking care of these trans folks.

    Not that it seems far-fetched, but you might want to consider adding a link there. The’s the sort of claim that should probably have some back up. Unless I missed it in your other links, in which case never mind. I just don’t have the stomach to wade through their poisonous bullshit.


    Personal rant time.

    The whole anti-trans thing is just bizarre. Why the fuck do they even care?

    I had a brief moment, and by moment I mean probably less than 10 minutes, in a conversation with a friend about trans women where I became intensely angry that someone the world identified as a man could claim to know what it felt like to be a woman. Right away I was all “Yeah, I wonder how the pay gap felt for him while he wasn’t experiencing it.”

    To my friend’s credit (she is indeed a wonderful person), she very carefully explained a few things. She gently reminded me how badly trans people are treated in our culture. I knew that, I just didn’t care at that moment. And she reminded me that the pay gap (or any enumerated list of slights ranging from petty to murder) wasn’t the sum total of what it means to be a woman. And she reminded me that many trans women, while living openly as women (because tans men didn’t matter too much to me either at that moment) actually knew exactly what it was like and more. Probably even more than I did.

    And then I felt shame at my childish outburst and decided that shitting on other people who had it worse than me for very similar reasons was not helpful to me or anyone else.

    So I kind of understand that brief moment of thoughtless, selfish anger. What I don’t understand is continuing with that to the point of seeking out other peoples’ doctors or friends or employers. Luring people into ridiculous traps so you can out them, or worse.

    Why the fuck on earth would you bother? We’ve “all” seen the Wile E. Coyote cartoons and we know how this ends. (Spoiler alert: It’s never, ever good for the coyote.)

    The kind of fear or hatred that would drive someone to behave so monstrously is unimaginable to me. It almost makes me feel sorry for them. Almost.

  33. 33
    Astrokid.NJ

    @Numenaster:
    The guy himself hates MRAs. There are a few articles on his site where he makes it explicit.
    He had roots in the loosely-defined Manosphere, and he now identifies an a Manospherian and a ‘Neo Reactionary’.
    There are articles at AVFM the leading MRA site distancing itself from the Manosphere. And MensRights subreddit keeps its distance from any PUA or similar subreddit. There is no co-operation between PUAs and MRAs.
    Look at the linked-to article at brutereason. It calls him a PUA. So how does Jason convert it into an MRA?

    Its like equating Skeptics, Atheists and Secular Humanists, coz they have overlapping adversaries.

  34. 34
    Jason Thibeault

    This is the pastebin that I’m referring to, leni: http://pastebin.com/C3XnqTVd

  35. 35
    Jason Thibeault

    Astrokid: oh, I see, so he’s a Lutheran and not one of those lousy heretical Anglicans. Got it.

  36. 36
    leni

    This is the pastebin that I’m referring to, leni: http://pastebin.com/C3XnqTVd

    Ahhh don’t post it like it’s for me! It just seemed like a claim that needed a link in your original post not something I personally wanted to read in order to verify that Cathy Brennan is an asshole, which I already know ><

  37. 37
    Jason Thibeault

    I actually wasn’t sure if I should, because that specific pastebin also has the person’s name and doctor’s name. Not that it’s not entirely already known to the TERFs or anything…

  38. 38
    M. A. Melby

    “Not that it seems far-fetched, but you might want to consider adding a link there. The’s the sort of claim that should probably have some back up. Unless I missed it in your other links, in which case never mind. I just don’t have the stomach to wade through their poisonous bullshit.”

    It’s pretty common knowledge at this point. I’ve seen the documentation first hand. Some of this documentation was linked within the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/southern-poverty-law-center-monitor-gender-identity-watch-as-a-hate-group-2

    There is quite a bit more documentation than that – this is her average mode of operation. What she did to Jason is pretty typical of how she treats pretty much every trans person and trans ally that pisses her off somehow (or just happens to annoy her by existing). She is especially cruel to anyone who is AMAB (assigned male at birth).

    I’ve been on her site several times, and so have many of my friends and acquaintances. Trans people whose safety depends on a certain amount of anonymity actively dread the possibility that she will doxx them – just like they have so many trans folks.

    Even among other some TERFs, she has a reputation for being really awful.

    The reality is much stranger than the narratives she tries to float – so a lot of people who are unaware of just how outlandish her behavior is, tend to have a difficult time believing the stories – and then once they realize how bad it is, they wonder how the heck she gets away with it.

    It’s coming to a head now though. Several complaints have been filed with the Maryland Bar and extensive documentation has been provided to the SPLC to possibly do an investigative report on her activities.

    Her supposed allies are turning on her due to personal disputes; and I suspect that she’ll start lashing out more, out of frustration, once she essentially starts seeing consequences for her actions.

    I mean, she’s being pretty stupid at this point – to be extremely frank. For example, instead of just saying that Jason was “accused of rape” (a true statement) she flat-out said he was a rapist on twitter (which is libel per se). I mean, ffs, she’s a lawyer.

    She also recently contacted the doctor of a friend of mine, by using a google image search and then e-mailing him, after my friend repeatedly told her not to contact her or interfere in her life. Brennan previous contacted her employer – outing her as trans and claiming that my friend harassed her about her rape (a claim she has provided no evidence for).

    I mean – it really goes on and on.

    She also trolls OkCupid and files fraud complaints against transgender lesbians; screen shots them and places them on her site.

    She’ll seem reasonable to those not in the know – and then when anyone sees through it and confronts her – she becomes insulting and abusive. For example, she calmly messaged someone’s mother, as if she was voicing concern about her daughter. When the mom told Brennan that she was wrong to contact her; Brennan retorted back: Your daughter is demented.

    She’s a bully.

  39. 39
    karmacat

    Reading the quotes by TERFs, I was struck by how much they hate men which then leads them to hate men who become women. I also noticed they don’t talk about women becoming men. Knowing what people go through medically and psychologically to change their gender, I can’t imagine any man becoming a woman just to hurt women and get into women’s bathrooms.

  40. 40
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    There’s too much hatred in this world.

    More than too much actually.

    No need for anyone to add any to it.

  41. 41
    Foible

    The whole anti-trans thing is just bizarre. Why the fuck do they even care?

    Good question, you can read the answer for yourself at any of the radfem blogs being discussed here, that’s how I learned. I was surprised by the answer and found that I agreed with them.

    This is only about the freedom of association, it is really that simple. These women want to be able to gather together and live their lives without males. Frankly, I thought that they already had that right and was shocked to learn otherwise. If you don’t believe me go read gendertrender and genderidentitywatch and read the stories and the comments. You’ll hear from real people, not the cartoonish caricature being writ large on this site.

    Right now females can not hold a conference for females. Females can’t have a panel or a session or anything at a conference if that event excludes trans. When females try and have a private gathering on private property they are protested and harassed. I’m surprised at how many females support this situation but then I’m surprised that there are female republicans.

    Please note that I had to use the word “female” to make myself clear here. Under the guise of politeness it has become very dificult to even talk about women who were born women as a seperate group from those that changed their status by legal means.

    So why do they even care? Lets ask some different questions: Can a woman refuse to use a trans woman as rape counselor? Should her feelings matter? Are the answers so black and white now?

  42. 42
    Jason Thibeault

    You absolutely can hold conferences and have spaces that exclude trans folk — you do it all the time. But when you do, you are recognized as being bigoted, especially by claiming that trans women are men. The fact that your compatriots go on to victimize these trans folk is what’s in question here. Why do you even care enough to attack someone who otherwise just wants to be left alone?

  43. 43
    leni

    Foible:

    So why do they even care? Lets ask some different questions: Can a woman refuse to use a trans woman as rape counselor? Should her feelings matter? Are the answers so black and white now?Foible:

    I’m not feeling any great moral quandary here. None of these questions are even remotely difficult for me to answer.

    Besides that, and as Jason just pointed out, I didn’t ask “why would anyone find trans people icky and scary”. I asked why anyone would care enough to escalate from that to harassment or stalking.

    M. A. Melby:

    She’s a bully.

    That… seems like a generous understatement. That is stalker behavior, she just appears to change targets often enough to stay out of legal trouble. Contacting someone’s doctor though? That is just fucking weird. I understand violence better than I understand this kind of behavior. (I signed that petition, by the way.)

    Jason, if you sue her for libel and I’ll help pay for the lawyer.

  44. 44
    M. A. Melby

    Gender Identity Watch and Gender Trender and many of the TERF sites exaggerate and lie.

    http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/group/

    You can have a private club, legally, pretty much anywhere that only invites who you wish to invite. You can have an all-white or an all-black or an all-gay or an all-AFAB or an all whatever-identity-you-decide-to-invite or whatever.

    That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be criticized for doing that – and you certainly are going to be criticized for the reasons you are doing that – if those reasons happen to be bigoted.

    When Michigan Womyn’s Festival essentially inspects someone’s body who they suspect is a trans woman, isolates her and kick her out; well they have every right to refuse to allow someone they perceive as male from their little shin-dig – but I’m going to judge them for it.

    The issue with Vancover Rape Relief is that they are being given public money. Their reasons for not allowing a trans woman to volunteer as a rape councilor, at least was coherent. They felt that someone who would be perceived as male would not be the best choice because some women might be bothered by that.

    The only analogy I can think of – is whether or not an Asian War Veteran should be disqualified to help council other War Vets because Veterans who have come back from War in Asian countries might be uneasy around Asian people. (I know making analogies to race can be inappropriate, but I’m not sure how else to describe it.)

    I can, at least, wrap my brain around that issue – that a vulnerable person should not be made to confront their own fears and prejudices when they are in need of help, even if those fears and prejudices are unfair. The counter, of course, is that disqualifying someone like that is profoundly demeaning, and is unfair to those who would be made *more* comfortable and served better due to their lived experience, even if that is a minority.

    But then – when you pile on, on top of that – the fact that they refuse service to trans women and invited a notorious anti-trans speaker Janice Raymond to their events; that they have spent more in legal fees fighting for their right to discriminate against trans women (while still taking public funds) than they would need to improve their facilities in such a way that would be helpful to everyone’s comfort and serve more women – well, my charity runs out pretty quickly.

    I know that Cathy Brennan and Gallus Mag (who really dislike each other by the way) sort of dress all this stuff up on their websites; however, I witness them on twitter.

    Both of them mock and doxx trans women with intense glee. If there ever could be a real, honest dialog about the nature of traditionally sex-segregated spaces and how they can be made more comfortable and safe for everyone; THOSE two individuals are absolutely not invited to that conversation.

    They aren’t cartoons? Yeah, they sort of are.

  45. 45
    oolon

    @Foible, yup the “females” (Have to say that in a Ferengi accent) have all the right in the world to associate based on their identity at birth or their belief in Santa, whatever! TERFs seem fairly inconsistent here though as some will say intersex or even “male” bodied humans (Hoo-mans, Ferengi again!) who are socialised from birth as women should be allowed. Others seem to think the peen has magic powers of #maleviolence and would never allow that (I suspect the prevalence of news around trans toddlers has pushed them into this position as they’d have to accept some trans women then!). I’m with the ones that think socialisation is key as their ideology says it is all socialisation – biological sex identifiers are irrelevant. Although I’m only “with them” in the sense that this is the logical conclusion from their own ideology, not that I agree with it!

    Of course the reasons why they say identification and socialisation at birth is important is that “male” socialisation leads to #maleviolence. Unequivocally and inescapably. This totally ignores the lived experience of the majority (? I’d like to say that but based on my experience, so a lot) of trans people who say they have always known. Their “socialisation” as “male” or even “female” (TERFs usually ignore this category of CAFAB and even include them as acceptable despite their “male” appearance) usually involved being viciously bullied by boys and girls and never fitting in. Now we have more awareness of transgender people there are cases of trans toddlers, age 3/4/5 knowing they have the wrong body for their gender identity. All this exposes the truth that the TERF line is based on misconception and obdurate disregard for trans peoples lived experience.

    But you say, they don’t feel safe around trans women so they have a right to exclude them! The figures for #maleviolence make that logical. Well you try pointing out to them that the CDC (And ironically prominent TERF @VABVOX, Victoria Brownworth’s) figures on partner sexual violence for lesbians is higher than that for heterosexual couples. Maybe someone could whip up some hate against lesbians using the straight women’s washroom, letting a group with a high level of sexual violence use the women’s washroom!? Clearly that would be bigoted, ask some TERFs about this discrepancy, they are silent. So despite there being none (? Not seen any) examples of trans women attacking cis women in bathrooms they spread this irrational hate against them. Statistically trans women have orders of magnitude more likelihood of being killed/beaten by cis people when they use the bathroom than the other way around.

    So feel free to discriminate on bigoted grounds, but you’ll find many people will criticise you for it and don’t expect any public body to support you.

  46. 46
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    leni at 32
    I think it’s always important to remember that not all women experience the same oppression. So while it’s completely possible that a trans* woman who is peresenting as male does not get one kind of bullshit her cis-friend is getting, it doesn’t mean she’s not getting different shit.
    Also, if you think about it, everybody gets the same messages about how boys and girls, men and women are supposed to be. It’s not as if a 6yo girl can totally tell you “how girls are” but is totally clueless about how “boys are”.
    Furthermore, I neither have to look between my legs nor have my genes analyzed to know I’m a woman, although I had people tell me I’m not a “real woman” because I didn’t behave according to their ideas about women. That’s pretty insulting and demeaning and fucked up and gender normative. So, if that’s true for me, why should I suppose it to be different for trans* people?

  47. 47
    John Horstman

    @M. A. Melby #13: TERF *is* a slur, becasue excluding trans people is a bad behavior, so calling someone a TERF is to slur them, saying they engage in bad behavior. It’s a deserved, accurate slur, and we should keep using it.

  48. 48
    John Horstman

    @Foible #41: You’re looking for the term “cisgendered”, which was coined to address that very issue; “female” doesn’t actually work, becasue there is no stable definition of the term (briefly: chromosomes, genital configuration, hormone levels, visible sex-typed/gendered characteristics, legal assignment, and self-identity are inconsistently and variously asserted as *the* standard for determining “sex”; while some of these tend to cluster, they all can be and are applied independently and are not necessarily in agreement as applied even by a single individual to another individual).

  49. 49
    John Horstman

    Oh, and of course I’m sorry to hear about a renewed set of abuse being leveled at you, Jason. I followed a bit of that Twitter dust-up (as much as I can follow Twitter, which is not much), and it looked like a lot of baseless accusations, goalpost-shifting, and simple denialism coming from Sister Trinity and her ilk. Hang in there; or, actually, tap out when you need to do so in order to preserve your own safety and sanity.

  50. 50
    John Horstman

    Also re: mansplaining feminism to women, it’s only mansplaining if the man in question is actually less-informed or less-qualified to be commenting on feminism. People are all the ultimate authorities on their own experiences, but beyond that not automatically anything. Being a member of a particular class doesn’t allow you to speak for that class as a whole any more than an outsider. A woman basing her views of feminism entirely on her own experience (unlikely, since she probably talks to other women, but as an example I’m taking an extreme to illustrate the point) is going to be woefully less qualified to do so than a man who has read hundreds of works of feminist theory and listened to the stories of hundreds of other women.

    Without being trained to analyze systems, you’re not really qualified to comment on the impact of systems on people with a particular trait, you’re only qualified to comment on how those systems impact YOU. Having a liver, even a diseased one, doesn’t make me an expert on liver disease, broadly speaking. Studying liver disease does. Having liver disease makes me an expert on how liver disease impacts me, but does not make me a physician specializing in liver disease, and I’ll take a physician’s advice even is ze has a healthy liver.

    Being a member of a marginalized class doesn’t magically make one more qualified to comment on the oppression of that class than EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the related privileged class, though it does likely mean that, on average, members of that class are more qualified than members of the privileged class. This is a mistake based on an unjustified universalization of average characteristics, a common heuristic fault that crops up in other areas as well.

  51. 51
    M. A. Melby

    #50

    YES THIS.

  52. 52
    M. A. Melby

    #47

    They are claiming that TERF is a slur akin to racial slurs or slurs against homosexuals. So – not so much.

    Insult? Perhaps.

    Slur? NO.

  53. 53
    hjhornbeck

    John Hortsman @50:

    Also re: mansplaining feminism to women, it’s only mansplaining if the man in question is actually less-informed or less-qualified to be commenting on feminism. People are all the ultimate authorities on their own experiences, but beyond that not automatically anything. Being a member of a particular class doesn’t allow you to speak for that class as a whole any more than an outsider. A woman basing her views of feminism entirely on her own experience (unlikely, since she probably talks to other women, but as an example I’m taking an extreme to illustrate the point) is going to be woefully less qualified to do so than a man who has read hundreds of works of feminist theory and listened to the stories of hundreds of other women.

    Thirded. During the months of research I did, this was my favorite find:

    Sherriffs, Alex C., and R. F. Jarrett. “Sex differences in attitudes about sex differences.” The Journal of Psychology 35.1 (1953): 161-168.

    The authors had their tongues firmly planted in cheek, admittedly, but the implications are quite profound. If strong sex differences existed, that could demonstrate that one gender was more aware of reality. Conversely, they could be promoting stereotypes and misinformation, presumably following an unconscious agenda of dominance.

    That’s not what these researchers found, though.

    There is surprising agreement between men and women both with respect to the behaviors and characteristics which they attribute to males and females and to the values they place on these qualities. Moreover, there are remarkably few behaviors and attributes which are not uniformly ascribed by both men and women to one or the other of the two sexes.

    Everybody is sexist, to a first approximation, even if that’s experienced quite differently by some of us. On the other side of the coin, no-one intrinsically knows more about the subject, and thus anybody could study up on the subject and speak on it.

  54. 54
    Jackie

    I have several friends who attend Michfest and they always invite me to go. They’ve even offered to pay my way. I just can’t do it. Not while they continue efforts to exclude transwomen.

  1. 55
    You say good bye, and I say hello. | SINMANTYX

    […] Gender Identity Watch twitter account claimed that a blogger that I know was a rapists, based on his story of a girl spreading rumors about him when he was […]

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