Gender Workshop: How to think like you’re not

Redundant posts are redundant

Except when they aren’t.

Here your gender-workshop-taskmistress Crip Dyke encourages you to revisit the douchegabbery of the Minnesota Child Protection League. PZ did an excellent job of illuminating just that in “Two steps forward, one step back” in December of last year, and the discussion on that thread when it was current included a great many useful comments.

I want, however, not to merely rehash criticisms of MCPL (criticisms well-deserved and well-made the first time around) but to use that example to talk a bit about what “centering” and “marginalized” really mean. In the post on the need for transfeminist critiques of other feminisms, I focussed on Katha Pollit and identified places where, quite frankly, I think she employed some bad thinking to construct some bad feminism. I suggested that marginalization had something to do with this bad thinking on Pollit’s part. Here you can learn more about exactly what marginalization has to do with it …and the extent of my criticism of Pollit, rather than merely Pollit’s column.

I didn’t pick Pollit because her work is low hanging fruit. She has written excellently on many topics. She clearly has the writing chops to be clear about the distinctions between political theorizing and political rhetoric. Yet the only reasonable inference is that she was, in fact, talking about rhetoric when she was using the phrase “political analysis”. She also has the analytical skills to make the distinction between gendered terms like the French pronouns ils and elles, and gender neutral words like people. Yet here, too, she fell down.

So what is the problem with this Katha Pollit person anyway? The problem is the same as one in our community: the inability to think like you’re not.  [Read more…]

Another reason Iceland is awesome

breast

It’s full of fierce independent women. Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir (also, full of great names) demonstrated for equality by posting a picture of herself bare-breasted on twitter — if men can do it, women ought to have that privilege, too — and as you might expect, immediately got a rash of misogynistic comments. So what did other Icelandic women do? They posted pictures of their breasts in solidarity.

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Gender Workshop: Lecturing at Others Edition

For your perusal, a new Gender Workshop post by Crip Dyke. Herein we discuss how feminists, in particular Katha Pollit, can fail to recognize feminism when it comes in the form of transfeminism. The readers themselves will have to judge the applicability of the title. For more active exercises in the workshop series, this here is a link back.

CaitieCat, a regular commenter here, recently brought to my attention this article, which discusses trans* persons’ reproductive rights in the context of feminist reproductive rights activism.

Along the way, it mentions a recent Katha Pollit piece in the Nation. Together, these pieces have created a good opportunity to explore transfeminism’s role in current feminisms.

Transfeminism, as I have defined it in my teaching, is the integration of feminism into trans* advocacy simultaneously and in coordination with the integration of trans* advocacy into feminism. It is of necessity something that is often labeled “intersectional feminism” (though we’ll critique that in another post). Here I won’t go much further into what transfeminism is. Rather, we’ll take a look at how current feminism demonstrates the need for a strong transfeminist response. [Read more…]

How not to build a coalition

I’m beginning to think that one of the big problems facing atheists is … incompetence. A representative from the Secular Policy Institute approached another organization and tried to convince them they ought to sign up with SPI. In the back and forth that followed after the organization expressed their lack of interest, the representative said a few things.

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Do you need another reason to despise Answers in Genesis?

Sure, they’re young earth creationists. That’s ridiculous enough, a view that is in complete denial of all of the evidence, and it makes them a fringe group that, if they didn’t have so much political influence, could be safely ignored. Just the fact that they reject the entirety of science ought to make them pariahs.

By the way, my latest reading is Martin Rudwick’s Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters, a very good book on the history of science, and I have to quote a paragraph from the introduction, in which he argues against the simplistic claim that it’s just Science vs. Religion.

…I try to show how an emerging sense of the Earth’s deep history was related to earlier conceptions of a much briefer kind of history in far more interesting and important ways than this tired stereotype allows. The surprising revival of “young Earth” ideas by some modern religious fundamentalists, and the even more surprising political power of such ideas in certain parts of the world, should not distract us from tracing the main story. I deal briefly with the modern creationists at the very end of this book, but in such a way that I hope it will be clear that they are a bizarre sideshow, not the climax of the narrative.

Even as a bizarre sideshow, though, their beliefs have social and political repercussions, and unfortunately, belief in creationism has a host of correlated consequences.

One of those consequences is the possession of a set of rigid sexual mores that defy biological reality. Another of the horrible, nonsensical ideas that AiG promotes is that gender is fixed and unchangeable, ordained by God, and so transgender people are freakish abominations who should not be accommodated in any way.

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