The High and Holy Church of Both Sides preaches on gender variance

Crip Dyke has a stupendous analysis on the trainwreck calling itself “An Argument for a Liberal and Rational Approach to Transgender Rights and Inclusion.” Like Crip, I was made aware of the piece through Trav at Bi Any Means, as well as their article for Splice Today Also like Crip, I thought Trav was a bit mild when they describe the piece as “missing the mark.” Crip goes into detail about the blinkered arrogance required to style oneself rational whilst equivocating trans feminists and anti-trans hatemongers. Content notice for trans-antagonistic nonsense quoted & characterized by Crip for the purposes of criticism:

Take, for example, their second premise. They don’t actually quote anyone saying the things they suggest are believed by one “extreme” side. I have no doubt that they could find such quotes if they wanted, but it still would not help them because they simply and utterly fail to show any evidence that they understand why there is such a divide between people who believe that some people are deluded about their genders and others believe the first group are horribly wrong.

Consider the feminists among those who belong (as much as anyone belongs) to anti-trans* faction described by the authors. While there are those who, more or less, would describe trans*-asserted gender identities as false (very few use “delusion”) do so because they believe that gender is sex and sex is gender. To produce sperm is to be male biologically, and I don’t know of any trans* persons who would contest that. The question is whether this is all that it takes to make one a man. There are trans* advocates (yes on freethoughblogs, even) who use the word female to describe trans* women and male to describe trans* men, but this is a considered position. It’s not an inability to understand that some people are born with uteruses. It’s stressing that the social relationships are primary and, since most of the time we don’t know what someone else’s genitals look like and nearly all the time we don’t have first hand chances to examine another’s chromosomes or genome, “male” should be used in a way similar to how “men” is used. It’s a position that is in part a reaction to the victimization of trans* people by non-trans* folk, and it does flow out of reasoning that finds past definitions of male and female inadequate, but it’s not a delusion.

What is on display is a disagreement about definitions, about what words mean and what they communicate (intentionally or not). You could find the most extreme anti-trans* feminists and the most extreme pro-trans* activists and if you got them to adopt a single definition for the purposes of communicating for a day, no one in the room would have trouble actually using the definition correctly. This isn’t about how trans* people are initially perceived. It’s about how they are categorized and how the socially-constructed categories of man and woman and male and female and trans (and many others) are defined. It’s about how people think these words are best used. Frankly, I’ve met many a trans*-exclusive radical feminist who demonstrated more knowledge of these important issues than Pluckrose and Lindsay, so I’m not sure what the authors use to justify thinking they have anything to contribute if they are not more informed than at least one of the factions that they consider to be ruining the possibilities for fruitful communication.

As I said in Crip’s thread: *chef finger kisses.*

Read more of Crip here or Trav here (or here).

Lastly the “High and Holy Church of Both Sides” is a term coined by American political commentator driftglass, who is, to put it mildly, exasperated with the Beltway’s capacity to equivocate Republican crimes against humanity with Democrat incompetence. I thought comparing “stop killing me” to “I want trans people to die” would be an apt application of the concept.

-Shiv

Edit October 17: I format html like a profeshunal.

A Jewish guy cut me off in traffic and now I’m a Nazi

GamerGate reached its zenith long before I began writing in earnest. I was fortunate to not be a direct target due to the lack of any public profile. Even so, it was obvious to me that it was not a movement with any clear or coherent claims about “ethics in games journalism” so much as it was directionless rage at the existence of anyone not cis, heterosexual, white, able-bodied, and/or a man, particularly in gaming spaces. Despite this, I was, at the time, surprised to learn that the movement and its posterboys had actual apologists claiming arguments as asinine as “you not being a doormat is why Nazis exist.” The title of this post was supposed to be a parody of centrists… I didn’t expect them to be so disconnected that they’d actually make that argument.

This was before I noticed the utter moral vacuity that is political centrism, and if I’m honest, seeing otherwise respected pundits bat for these sadistic, nihilistic shitheels would be the first of many steps damaging my enthusiasm for representative politics altogether. It would also be the start of my descent into the rabbit hole where I found out that every atrocious crime against humanity in history has its defenders.

Of course, to this day, mentioning GamerGate inevitably results in trolls flooding my Twitter feed and getting caught in my comments filter (I daren’t publish such filth). To this day they are stalking every mention of their movement. I wasn’t even a concerted target of their harassment and I figured out, like three years ago, what was really motivating them. Then “news” of alt-right posterboy Milo Yiannopoulos’ connections with white supremacists broke out and all these centrist pundits have the fucking chutzpah to act surprised.

I guess folks still aren’t listening.

GamerGate wasn’t new, it was an escalation and formal marshaling of longstanding forces (one can’t even say they were dormant, just disorganized). Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon saw the terroristic power of GamerGaters’ rage against something as simple as a gay videogame character, and it’s no wonder they set about trying to harness it for ever more consequential ends. What’s gobsmacking about Bernstein’s report is that it took incontrovertible proof that Yiannopoulos did things like use Nazi-themed passwords for his emails, and literally sent one of his most famous articles to actual neo-Nazis for line edits, for some people to go “oh, maybe we should’ve listened” (never mind that evidence of Yiannopoulos’ history of Nazi sympathy has been out there for a long time).

More grating still are people who actually worked with Yiannopoulos because they saw him as useful to their “anti-PC” crusade, now trying to cover their asses. There was a furious alacrity to Cathy Young publishing an article at Forward that pretends to be a mea culpa, at once saying she “take[s] full responsibility” for “enabling” Yiannopoulos, and then trying to find a way to blame her “PC Police” bugbear for him as well. “If people who gave Yiannopoulos a pass on bad behavior (myself included) were his enablers,” she wrote, “so was the politically correct culture that fueled his ascent.”

If everyone is to blame, then no one is. Which, one suspects, is rather the point of her writing this.

If you think you won’t pull out your hair, watch the shameless attempts at damage control by the pundits who profited off calling GamerGate targets hysterical.

-Shiv

When they start babbling about thought police

One of the many reasons I have difficulty assuming right-wing commentators engage in good faith is the abundance of projection I see in their accusations. Universities, often maligned as bastions of “thought policing” and “safe spaces” (that’s a bad thing?), are now being targeted by right-wing harassment campaigns for saying something they don’t like.

This time, the outrage machine geared up as it often does, with a minor conservative media outlet — in this case, the Daily Caller — chopping my tweets up into a misleading mishmash that transformed a nuanced diagnosis of white male frustration into an attack on white people in general. When the Daily Caller posted the article to Facebook, moreover, the intention was clearly to incite: “Absolutely unforgiveable” (sic) read the post, which by now has been shared nearly 2,000 times and commented upon more than 3,000 times.

Hate mail and death threats began to roll in. “I will beat your skull in till there is no tomorrow.” “Soon all you p‑‑‑‑‑s will get exactly what you deserve.” “Do the world a favor, and kill yourself … I’ll help you find death sooner than later.” One called me a “pig f‑‑‑er like Obama,” adding homophobic slurs for good measure. Many called me a “cuck” — a favorite racial and sexual insult of the alt-right — while others urged me to move to North Korea or Venezuela. One “love note from a WHITE American” wrongly identified me as a “greasy South American a‑‑hole.”

From there, the contagion was rapid, with Stephen Bannon’s Breitbart News and even Milo Yiannopoulos’s own website running their own cribbed copies of the same story. Then came FrontPagethe Blazethe College Fix and the campus mercenaries at Turning Point. Soon, the manufactured story had hit the conspiratorial fringes of Infowars and online forums across the right: from “blue lives matter” to those preparing for the inevitable rapture.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Some concessions about Twitter

I still despise Twitter as a platform, principally because it refuses to do anything about its infestation of Nazi shitheels. Twitter has, through its inaction, become an inadvertent hotbed of white supremacist recruitment in the North American context. I imagine similar extreme views have gained traction as a result elsewhere in the world, for the same reason.

The only way I’m even able to use the problem at all is by subscribing to a user-made function called block lists, which are exactly what they say on the tin–a list of users defined by certain parameters who can be added to your personal block list. I have a “Deplorable Blocker” and a “TERF Blocker” active. Of course, the administrators of these lists are human, and therefore imperfect, so in order to access this platform at all, I have to contend with the possibility of false positives on my block list, and most of them seem to be minorities who were added because the block lists’ code can’t account for context. Slurs, for example, take on a very different meaning depend on how they’re used and who they’re used by, but if you’re coding a spider to pick up user handles of everyone with a slur in it, you’ll sweep up everyone without that context.

It’s very frustrating. Even as I make a few concessions, I am still pretty pissed at Twitter’s lethal incompetence.

However, there are two benefits I’m now willing to admit, even with these problems:

  1. Last time I had work published, the paper’s platform combined with FTB gave me a respectable view count in the 1000s within a week or so. Since my average FTB post attracts about 600 pairs of eyeballs, many of which share the material, I considered this a smashing success. Now with my most recent published paper shared on Twitter, it got 25,000 views in under eight hours. As a promotional tool, it’s extremely effective.
  2. Lots of minorities use Twitter to self-promote, and as a result I’ve widened my reading material to include a lot of perspectives & data that I would otherwise miss.

I still desperately want Twitter to recognise abuse and do something–literally anything–about it. The blocklists are an imperfect solution, because abusive shitheels tend to run astroturfing campaigns under new handles that can weasel around them, but I now see Twitter’s utility in promoting material. I’ve only used it for a few months and it’s become the biggest source of new and, more importantly, consistent readers.

Then again some of them might be Nazis, so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

-Shiv

Good news Thursday: Canada pays $800 million in reparations to victims of cultural genocide

Marcia Brown Martel began eight years ago a lawsuit claiming damages against the Canadian government for an operation that would come to be known as the “60s scoop.” The Indigenous communities, destabilized by the lasting effects of ghettoization and the cultural genocide program we call the residential schools, were frequent clients of Child & Family Services. Unlike today, placement practices for children removed from their parents’ care had little regard for reunification as a possible goal. Indigenous children were effectively trafficked out of their communities and placed in white, Catholic homes, far away from home. Some were even sold to the United States and various countries in Europe.

Now the Canadian government has announced that it will not only consolidate the various lawsuits filed against it, but will settle for all of them, earmarking $800 million for the remaining survivors.

TORONTO — The federal government has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to survivors of the ’60s Scoop for the harm suffered by Indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural identities by being placed with non-native families, The Canadian Press has learned.

The national settlement with an estimated 20,000 victims, to be announced Friday by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, is aimed at resolving numerous related lawsuits, most notable among them a successful class action in Ontario.

Confidential details of the agreement include a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant, to a maximum of $750 million, sources said.

In addition, sources familiar with the deal said the government would set aside a further $50 million for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation, a key demand of the representative plaintiff in Ontario, Marcia Brown Martel.

Spokespeople for both Bennett and the plaintiffs would only confirm an announcement was pending Friday, but refused to elaborate.

“The (parties) have agreed to work towards a comprehensive resolution and discussions are in progress,” Bennett’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “As the negotiations are ongoing and confidential, we cannot provide further information at this time.”

The sources said the government has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees — estimated at about $75 million — separately, meaning the full amount of the settlement will go to the victims and the healing centre, to be established in the coming months, sources said.

Read more about the settlement here.

-Shiv

Siobhan in The Establishment: How the Media’s Bullshit ‘Both Sides’ Punditry Harms Trans People

On May 15, 2017, a Medium user published an article to her personal handle arguing — among many other things — that the presence of trans women in women’s spaces constituted an act of aggression, and that the vocabulary proposed by trans men to describe themselves “erased” cis women.

Despite the rather extreme premises assumed in the piece, a feminist publication by the name of Athena Talks decided to pick it up shortly after it was posted, resulting in a second round of sharing among feminist outlets.

I am, unfortunately, rather used to having my mere presence likened to violence. Calling myself a feminist as a trans woman has meant that I’ve had to share spaces with people who argue, in all seriousness, that my health care is a conspiracy theory to eradicate gay people.

What I haven’t acclimatized to is the practice of abandoning any commitment to discovery or knowledge, something that seems distressingly widespread in media practices today. Because what Athena Talks did next also follows a well-established pattern: They published another article that was critical of the first piece, without any acknowledgement that the arguments previously presented were both based on inaccuracies and illogically constructed.


[Read more…]

A root of TERFism

I’ve been contemplating writing a review of Sheila Jeffreys’ published conspiracy theory, Gender Hurts, in order to educate on the roots of some academic/feminist trans-antagonism. I hadn’t entirely recovered from the migraine since the first time I read it, so it was a project I was not looking forward to. Thankfully, I’ve discovered that somebody else has done this work for me. Roz Kaveney writes at Glamourous Rags:

Language is, for Jeffreys, something to be used carefully to deny the existence of choices of which she disapproves. For example, she uses ‘prostitute’ only as a passive transitive verb, because she is of the opinion that no sex worker has any autonomy. She refers to ‘transgenderism’ as if it were an ideology rather than a complex of needs and choices, and has turned ‘transgender’ into a verb. She prides herself on always using the pronouns she regards as correct rather than those trans people have chosen for themselves; she explains at length that this is a matter of principle, rather than mere childish rudeness. At the same time, she regards the adoption of the value-free term cis to denote anyone not trans as a vile and insulting piece of abuse.

Jeffreys is very keen to deny personal animus, though her grasp of strict truth is often lacking. She talks of a conference she was to speak at being banned from the C onway Hall, rather than of its organizers having been reminded that they needed to observe the hall’s regulations about hate speech and declined to do so. She cites this occasion as evidence of a ‘McCarthyite’ conspiracy to silence her, as she does the existence of a number of mildly successful trans journalists – all of whom mostly write on other matters. (Sheila Jeffreys remains, of course, a tenured academic in spite of this cabal.) She also denies that she is guilty of hate speech in spite of a passage in which she claims that the genitals of trans women who have had surgery stink.

This passage is worth commenting on because she relies on a Dutch study of the bacterial flora of those private parts (Weyers 2000), but both distorts its results and fails to criticize its protocols. Tge Weyers study notes occasional unpleasant discharges in a fifth of its population – because it relies on literature for its comparison of flora, the study is mute on the frequency of such discharges in cis women. The protocol also asked its subjects not to wash their genitals for three days and did not consider the effect of this on the degree to which faecal bacteria were present – nor does Jeffreys. The study does, however notice that lesbian trans women had a flora closer to the cis norm – Jeffreys does not mention this correlation, for whatever reason.

Read more of Roz’s review here.

-Shiv

While we’re at it, the Daily Fail can fuck off too

I apparently have to start a series like this.

The Daily Mail, July 30 2017:

Daily Mail seeks out opinion of an artist (?) expressing the opinion that puberty blockers are bad “because sterilisation.”

 

The Daily Mail, October 1 2017:

Preserving fertility of trans teenagers is bad because it’s “too expensive.”

This is why I don’t play optics with avowed trans-antagonists. There is no way for me to please the Daily Fail except to fucking die so they can sell magazines about why I should be locked up with men in prison.

Fuck off you poncy fascist sockpuppets.

-Shiv

 

 

Arresting the press is only bad when Russia does it

Considering the stakes of the J20 prosecution, I find it odd that more corporate media outlets aren’t covering it. In addition to the prosecutor’s arguments taking a sledgehammer to American civil rights, there are still two journalists among the accused. For a press circuit that warned of Trump’s threats against the press, why isn’t the issue getting more coverage?

For over two years, many in corporate media have been trumpeting the looming threat to a free press posed by Donald Trump. “Would President Trump Kill Freedom of the Press?” Slate (3/14/16) wondered in the midst of the primaries; after the election, the New York Times (1/13/17) warned of “Donald Trump’s Dangerous Attacks on the Press,” and the Atlantic (2/20/17) declared it “ A Dangerous Time for the Press and the Presidency.”

It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prison for the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)

ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman insists that these arrests “punish journalists for being near the action” and will “inevitably chill freedom of the press and, with it, First Amendment rights not only of the journalists themselves, but of all of us.”

Read more here.

-Shiv