Some Thoughts On International Women’s Day

I love and respect International Women’s Day. I do. I think it is deeply important, and deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated, as well as used as an opportunity to engage in certain kinds of thinking and dialogue we normally don’t bother with. Sadly, it does seem that the people who ignore feminism and issues of women’s rights tend to ignore IWD, and those who pay attention to the value of IWD are those who were already paying attention to feminism and women’s rights. But I still think it’s of huge importance to have a day where we specifically do everything we can to bring those issues forward, and remind people they’re there. Even just the reminder alone, even if it doesn’t lead to further discussion, is worth having this day. [Read more...]

Sandra Fluke now no longer a whore, but an evil supporter of trans rights!

I’ll just let you guys read this and come to your own conclusions…

Sandra Fluke, Gender Reassignment, And Health Insurance

In a funny way, I actually appreciate these idiots bringing attention to this fact. Since we already know Ms. Fluke’s detractors have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to contraception, maybe this will help people who support Ms. Fluke, but don’t yet see the parallels between attempting to limit women’s reproduction and medical choices and the denial of trans people’s choices about their bodies, understand how these issues intersect, and why it is important to defend the right of every human being to have access to appropriate medical care and a range of options, even if it involves girly hormones and icky lady parts.

Sacrificing Privilege

This is a repost of an article originally posted on Skepchick. I felt I needed a bit of a day off. I mentioned yesterday the exhaustion I was feeling from having to do a whole lot of fighting, on a whole lot of fronts, in a very short period of time… and then along came Be Scofield, who decided I’m the latest incarnation of the pure evil that is Gnu Atheism, trying to force all the poor defenseless minorities into our imperialistic atheist dogma and “Western” scientific principles. So yeah, just one thing too many, and I need a moment to relax and recharge. Fortunately, Ophelia, Chris and Jason have all done a great job of responding to Be, so I don’t really need to worry much about providing a rebuttal (To respond to Be or not to respond to Be? That is the question…whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously slanderous blog posts, or to take arms against a sea of inanity and by posting a rebuttal end them…). It does, however, provide a nice touchstone for a piece I was planning to do this week anyway, which will be going up tomorrow. “Confessions Of A Post-Modernist”. So stay tuned, I’ll be back soon!

Special apologies to all the new readers who’ve come in as a result of Kate Beaton’s kind tweet, and the recent new-life my Lorax post has gotten. Under most circumstances, this blog features new content every weekday (typically one theory-oriented essay at 9am EST and a shorter more topical piece around 1pm EST), a recap on Saturdays (with cute animals!), and on Sundays a music video, collection of links and news items and some kind of puzzle or game (I’ll also be adding comics and drawings in the near future). I’ll be back to form tomorrow.

So anyway, here’s one of my articles from Skepchick, which was particularly well-received the first time around. I hope all my new reeders enjoy it, and older ones enjoy getting to return to it with new eyes. [Read more...]

A Beginner’s Guide To Trans-Misogyny

Although I’ve mentioned it before, and have often had to explore it in order to make certain arguments clear, I realized yesterday that I’ve never really taken the time to specifically discuss and outline the phenomenon of trans-misogyny for its own sake. Trans-misogyny, simply put, is the unique confluence of various attitudes about gender that end up being directed as hatred, discrimination, scorn or ridicule towards trans women. Or pretty much just the unique and particular form of misogyny that targets trans women.

Because it’s such a central concept to understanding what trans women deal with, and why, and what motivates the pronounced cultural hostility towards us, I thought it could be helpful to take a post to just quickly go over the basic concepts at play here, and what makes trans-misogyny unique, in comparison to other related bigotries like transphobia and misogyny. [Read more...]

On Being A Feminist, A Trans/Queer-Rights Advocate And An Atheist/Skeptic At The Same Time, Or: How To Be Hated By All Your Friends & Allies

On Friday, Russell over at The Atheist Experience, aware of how nervous I was about the potential backlash my God Does Not Love Trans People post could receive (due to the hostile reaction I received on Twitter just for mentioning the possibility of writing it), put up a little post asking his readers to help support me in the event that I did get trolled or attacked by religious believers or apologists.

That’s not quite what happened. [Read more...]

“Shut Up, That’s Why” – A Follow-Up

So having a bit more fun with taking things Greta Christina said really, really well and beautifully in regards to atheism, and applying those concepts to things I’ve observed in terms of how other minority groups are treated, like in my Catches Twenty-Two post…

I’ve been thinking for awhile that it would be interesting to talk a bit about how the “Shut Up, That’s Why” non-arguments she once elegantly described being used against atheists also show up in tactics used against other unpopular ideas and movements, like feminism, queer rights, or social justice.

“Shut Up, That’s Why” was right away one of my absolute favourite things Greta had ever written. Given how much I adore her work, and how she has been possibly the single most influential atheist blogger for me, personally, that’s pretty high praise. But in all honesty, the kinds of tactics she was describing I had come across far more frequently in the context of feminism than atheism, and resonated with me on that level more strongly than on the level of being an atheist. Maybe it’s just because I do a generally lousy job of being truly outspoken as an atheist, but still… I always thought it would be interesting to explore that a bit, and talk about how “Shut Up, That’s Why” shows up in other contexts. So this is me doing so. [Read more...]

Bio-Essentialism, Social-Constructivism, And What Hormones Do And Don’t Actually Do

One of the often jarring things about being a trans feminist, or even just being a trans person who enjoys participating in discussions of feminism and gender theory, is how you’ll sometimes come across cis people using the existence of trans people to prove some point or another. One way or the other, any theory of gender will ultimately have to account for us, and the simple fact that there are such a thing as trans people, people whose gender identity is in conflict with their assigned, physiological sex, and that there always has been such a thing as gender variance, ends up having significant implications for our understanding of human gender and sex.

A lot of the time, people will just try to ignore us, or awkwardly force us into their existing framework somehow, or develop really elaborate, creaky, intellectually acrobatic theories to try to get us to fit and explain how we can exist without threatening whatever theory of gender they’ve decided to put their stake in. But when things get weird, and sometimes insulting, is when they decide to just go right ahead and use trans people as a tool for pushing their theory forward. Most of the time, you’ll seen this done by one of two groups: the extreme social constructivists, who argue that gender isn’t really real, and is sort of only in our heads, who will suggest that the existence of trans folk indicates that clearly biological sex doesn’t determine gender. And also the extreme bio-essentialists, who say that men and women are fundamentally different, and behavioural differences between the sexes emerge from underlying neurological or hormonal or genetic or evolutionary differences, and the fact that trans people exist, or behave in ways different from the gender they’ve been socialized to be, and that gender identity disorder is thoroughly unresponsive to therapy or cultural pressures and stigma, indicates that there is clearly some kind of underlying human trait that drives gender and gender differences.

Two sides of a debate, each holding contradictory theories, each claiming trans people as conclusive proof of their position. [Read more...]

Human Beauty

One thing I’ve been having a bit of trouble with lately is trying to negotiate some kind of balance between what I’ve come to understand about how perceptions of beauty are mediated by social and cultural convention against the fact that ultimately, I really rather do appreciate the beauty of the human form, of people. And that I find some people more exceptionally beautiful than others. Let’s say… Benedict Cumberbatch? Andrej Pejic? Gael Garcia Bernal? Kim Petras?

How do you allow yourself to appreciate given traits when you know they’re all so conditional and relative, and even help prop up perceptions you’d rather rid yourself of? Are we willing to just take the hit, decide “whatever beauty I perceive is a projection, not really there” and move on? [Read more...]

So Amy Pond Is Cool… But What About Irene Adler?

You know I can’t resist a good Doctor Who / Steven Moffat discussion. Especially when feminism is involved.

Yesterday, the extraordinary Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds posted a response to some less-than-great criticisms levied against Mr. Moffat and the storyline he had written for Amy Pond in the most recent series of Doctor Who. Stephanie did a really great job of indicating how some of these feminist critiques of Pond’s character and arc are actually more reductive and sexist than anything Moffat himself had done.

Now, a couple weeks ago, I would have simply cheered and been on-side with Stephanie regarding this, because I really didn’t understand why people seemed to regard Moffat as being sexist. None of his work on Doctor Who really leapt out at me as such, he seemed to be doing a better job with his female characters and exploring female experiences than Russell Davies had, and he was easily head and shoulders above the vast majority sci-fi writers’ handling of women. I’m looking at you, Lost.

But then I watched Sherlock. In particular, I watched the second series premier, “A Scandal In Belgravia”. And what I saw was one of the most misogynistic stories I’d ever seen on television.

Spoilers ahead. [Read more...]

MRA Gets Around

So I managed to get two posts done before crashing last night. That’s not bad, right? It’s not the full three, sure, but now I’m freed up to talk about the absolutely batshit rant I woke up to find circulating around the blogowebz. I’m a little behind on this compared to my FTB colleagues, on account of time zones and the human physiological need for sleep and other inconveniences, but I’ll take a go anyway.

Last night TJ Kinkaid, known more popularly as The Amazing Atheist, went on some kind of incredibly vicious tirade on reddit, deliberately trying to provoke a trigger response in a redditor who’d expressed once having been a victim of rape. This was apparently all motivated by his disagreement with the use of trigger warnings on the internet (almost as stupid and useless as NSFW, amirite!?) and how incredibly angry he was that the dogmatic, intolerant feminazis were trying to “control sexuality” and ruining atheism and blah blah blah we’ve heard this all before. Though usually without the same horrifically violent, degrading, hateful exploitation of rape and trauma to “make a point”. Various wonderful rebuttals to his arguments are currently scattered all over the FTB today, so I’d mostly just like to direct you there. I don’t much feel like retreading ground that has already thoroughly been covered. And landscaped. And set up with a little garden.

Instead I’m going to tell you about something kind of spooky. [Read more...]