Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator wants to assimilate you

If there was ever an argument for abolishing Canada’s appointed Senate, Lynn Beyak is it. After defending the first genocide of the continent’s first nations by European colonials, then the second genocide through the residential school program by bonafide Canadians, Beyak spent her summer months supposedly meeting with Indigenous communities. Her takeaway? Give up your culture and assimilate–also, apply for citizenship that you already have.

“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa,” she said in an open letter published Sept. 1 on her Senate website.

(Indigenous people born in this country are Canadian citizens, and were given full voting rights in 1960.)

“Like the leaders already do in Ottawa” is an interesting euphemism, considering the outstanding criticism is that we flout our treaties. Perhaps Beyak is unaware, but a federal government dishonouring its agreements is generally perceived as a high-risk partner in diplomacy, and it severely damages your government’s ability to bargain. There’s a reason North Korea has exactly zero friends, with their supposed ally mostly using NK as a proxy to undermine the United States. The fact that Trudeau is undermining “fewer” of these treaties isn’t… exactly… progress.

Also, she’s apparently unaware that status first nations are still citizens? Why is this twit being paid with my tax money?

“None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share,” she wrote. “All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”

Great! So we’re de-funding the Catholic systems then! (Somehow I doubt that’s what she actually means)

How about, instead of paying this leaking ass-pimple her salary, we use the money to fire her into the fucking sun.



A brief history of menstrual taboos

The construction of menstruation as an “unclean” process is an important cornerstone in misogyny, as it provides the sexist asshat a permanently available means of character assassination. Jen Bell gives us a brief review of the taboo’s presence for the past 100 years or so in advertising.

Modess was a brand created by Johnson & Johnson in 1926, which became a household name thanks to a glamorous advertising campaign they did in the US from the 1940s to the 1970s. The ads featured high fashion models, gorgeous gowns and the text: “Modess… Because.” There was no description of the product or what it was for. Periods were a taboo topic that was not directly spoken about, only alluded to. It took until 1985 for the word period to be said in a TV commercial by none other than Courtney Cox.

In the 1950s Modess promoted the fact that their sanitary napkins came in a plain brown paper box to save embarrassment.

Many brands still use terms like “virtually undetectable” or advertise that their product has a “discreet wrapper” to ensure “discreet protection.” This suggests it’s important to hide the fact you’re menstruating. In 2010, Kotex challenged period shame with their “Break the Cycle” campaign, showing that it’s cool to carry your tampons proudly in a transparent handbag.

At first the Softcup ad from 2015 above seems like it’s breaking taboos about period sex: the viewer can peek through an open door to see a couple in bed, with the text promoting “12-hour leak protection so you can sleep. Or not.” But the Softcup is actually designed to hide the fact you have your period, so you can go about your (sex) life “without him knowing.” Friendly reminder: you can have sex during your period — some people even prefer it! There’s no need to hide the fact you are menstruating from your partner. Periods shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment.

Menstruation is also used in other oppressive constructs (e.g. its presence is sometimes cited as “evidence” against trans men’s manhood, or to undermine any AFAB individual expressing a gender other than woman). This demonstrates some of the previous arguments I’ve made about how an attribute can exist but its broader “meaning” remains in dispute.

Maybe we can just generally stop being shitty about people’s bodily attributes.

Read more here.


Away from declaration, towards euphemism

Obscurity has been a feature of politics probably since politics was a thing, but it got especially severe starting with Nixon and his Southern Strategy: Court racism without actually saying openly racist shit. The principles of the strategy seem to have spread quickly, and Kristen Cardozo reviews its modern impact:

And yet this is a strangely naked moment we’re living in. If there has been a historical progression, it has been in language, moving away from an open declaration of our alignments and into euphemism. Now, in Trump’s America, our euphemisms are being set aside in favor of the open, forthright bigotry modeled by officials in the highest offices in the land. We live in an America where a sitting US president has insisted that some people marching under a Nazi flag, at a rally where an American woman was murdered, are good, a president who has referred to a “they” who are stealing “‘our’ history and ‘our’ heritage,” as Confederate monuments tumble. The president, in his first major policy decision post-Charlottesville, cancelled the wildly popular DACA program that allows undocumented people brought to this country as children to work, presumably because it will play to his rapidly shrinking and very white base, as well as thwart the will of the first Black president. Trump’s alignment to white supremacy is expressed loudly, not in a polite whisper.

Our president literally opened his campaign with a claim that Mexicans are rapists and criminals. As Trump won primary after primary, white pundits repeatedly said, up until the moment that Trump took office, that his bigotry “wasn’t funny anymore.” That it could ever have been seen as “funny” at all shows a divide in how people of different races read. For people who have been on the receiving end of American racism, the blunt declaration of a candidacy predicated on open hatred of brown bodies was another sign that, to white people, the fundamental American was always white. White Americans found Donald Trump’s overt racism humorous because too many of us saw it as an aberration, one that had no place or purchase in our egalitarian culture. People of color, who live under a daily onslaught of micro and macro aggressions, saw it as a clear reveal of the racism that underlies American culture.

Read more here.


At this point the anti-trans crowd isn’t shy about lying through their fucking teeth

Lydia Bilton (nor her editor, for that matter) couldn’t even make it one article without contradicting herself.

An expert gets it wrong? Do tell.

Journalism pro-tip:

The mom

is not

an expert

And frankly, she’s blaming the doctors because she didn’t follow their orders. That’s bad enough, if she wasn’t trying to “warn” people about the fucking healthcare regime that she deliberately defied.

Fuck off, 9News, and fuck you, Ali.




My Chacha is Gay makes another appearance

When we last signal boosted My Chacha is Gay, we found another example of the unenviable position between white progressivism and Islam that many ex-Muslims find themselves in. Eiynah, a Pakistani-Canadian blogger, wrote the children’s book to address homophobia within Islam. For a brief time it was taken up by Toronto public schoolboards, before both conservative Islamic parents and white liberals complained. While it ought to be recognised by white progressives that we have a delicate balancing act critiquing oppression within an oppressed minority in the North American context, there shouldn’t be any excuse for stifling conversation that comes from said community.

It wasn’t just a blend of extremist Muslims and run-of-the-mill internet shitheads (though of course there were plenty of those). A lot of ordinary Muslim Canadians were mad as well. “In Toronto, a radio show broadcast calls from angry parents, punctuated with a few obligatory calls from people defending the book. Some parents threatened to sue the school board, and predictably, the LGBT-supporting liberal school board backed away from the book. It was never used in an official capacity again.”

Eiynah continues: “The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) published a blog post claiming that the school board was the one bullying parents into teaching their kids about LGBT diversity. I was branded an ‘Islamophobe,’ and that was it. A resource that many children/teachers enjoyed and found useful was no longer available.” And while it’s crazy that acknowledging the existence of gay people was perceived as an attack on a religion, it’s kind of understandable that the Muslim community was hypersensitive to attack …

Read more here.


Threatening protesters with 75 years is totally reasonable, rules #j20 judge

I find myself gobsmacked in reading these statements. The entire argument by the hundreds of defence lawyers for the J20 defendants mass arrested on Trump’s inauguration is that taking protesters to trial for 55+ years worth of charges is an act of intimidation in and of itself, in violation of the First Amendment. The j20 judge just kind of… completely ignores the implications of Kerkhoff’s [the prosecutor] actions and ploughs straight ahead.

“The government comes in and says my client is liable for a felony—all they’ve established is that he’s arrested, not even what he did during the march,” defense attorney Veronice Holt argued in July. “You can’t just say, ‘As many people as the government can catch need to stand trial.'”

But Judge Lynn Leibovitz writes in her decision that the charging document has all of the necessary specificity to go to trial. The government says that all of the defendants operated as part of the “black bloc,” using those tactics to commit violence and evade identification. Because the government is using aiding and abetting and conspiracy liability, “each defendant charged in the indictment may be liable for the acts of others alleged in the indictment,” writes the judge

Yes, Leibovitz. That’s the fucking problem. If these charges result in conviction, it’s a blank cheque to police to scoop up as many people as they want, as long as some twit breaks a window.

She also rejected the argument that the charges amounted to a First Amendment violation. Defense lawyers said that people might protest less if they feared they would be held legally responsible for the actions of others.

But Leibovitz writes that those arguments are, in essence, also about whether the government has evidence against the individual defendants that would justify their charges, a question she writes is better addressed at trial, the first of which is slated to start in November. She concludes that the indictment’s details survive both First and Fourth Amendment challenges.

In essence? Threatening you with several decades is entirely reasonable and not at all intimidation.

Solidarity is now evidence for conspiracy.

I’m sure the freeze peachers will be here any minute now.


Gender variance in other languages

I am quite insistent on the point that the vocabulary a language has to describe something can affect how people perceive it. Gender variance is one such example, where not having the words for your feelings leaves a sufferer with an unspecified sense of “wrongness,” but no clear road map as to what to do with that information. An observation to help confirm this idea is how gender variance is treated in different languages.

If it seems like English-speakers are dissatisfied, the situation for speakers of gendered languages is worse. In the same survey, transgender French respondent #171 was clear and succinct:

[S]peaking a gendered language as an agender person fuckin’ sucks. I’m constantly misgendered, or I’m misgendering myself in order to be understood.”

Misgendering in a gendered language was explained by another respondent:

“For example, in English, there are multiple nouns that I can use to classify myself (partner, student) without making reference to gender, whereas in German I’m supposed to say the feminine form of many common categories into which I fit, like student (Studentin), and have to explain myself when I refuse.”

In English, one can say they are a teacher with a partner, and no one’s gender is revealed; French and German lack that luxury.

Transgender German respondent #98 added:

“The options that English presents work reasonably well for me and I can express my gender identity and use preferred pronouns […]. [In] German I struggle a lot with language and [I am] often very unhappy with the situation of [the lack of] German gender-neutral language. I lack usable and easy to learn/apply pronouns and descriptions of myself. That the language is very gendered is a big problem in my life.”

Russian is a gendered language that does feature a neuter third-person pronoun, оно [it]. This pronoun is not typically applied to people — instead it is used only for objects with neuter noun names, typically borrowed words like кафе (cafe) that do not take a masculine or feminine case. A few gender pioneers, however, have co-opted it. For example, Seroe Fioletovoe [Grey Violet] — a transgender Russian activist who is part of the artist collective Война [War], best known for spawning punk activists Pussy Riot — uses “оно” to describe themself.

Read more here.


Passive vs. active whiteness

This essay articulates the depth of my contempt for Republican voters (and modern conservatism more generally):

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

Read more here.


“Just” something else, redux

The trend of “anything but trans” continues apace, and the latest theme is once again a misconception between autism and gender dysphoria. HJ Hornbeck has made a good case that no such correlation between the two even exists; still, even if we were to accept that it is true (which is a stretch with the data available to us), the attributes of autism do not preclude gender dysphoria.

Such practices do not reflect what is currently known about individuals with both gender dysphoria and autism. The assumption that a trans person’s gender has emerged from aspects of their autism, rather than this straightforwardly being their gender as in allistic individuals, is largely unfounded. There is a kernel of fact at the center of this speculation: those with gender dysphoria have an elevated likelihood of being autistic or exhibiting autistic features, and autistic people are also more likely to be dysphoric or gender-variant (May, Pang, & Williams, 2017).

But the observation of “some of these people are on the autism spectrum” is distinctly different from the claim of “some of these people are on the autism spectrum and their autism is causing the false appearance of a transgender identity”. A significant proportion of trans people are autistic. This does not therefore mean they aren’t trans.

Contemporary scientific literature on co-occurring gender dysphoria and autism generally does not conclude that autistic people’s trans identities are any less authentic than those of allistic people. May et al. (2017) note that autistic traits can actually make this group less likely than allistic individuals to refrain from coming out or visibly manifesting a gender-variant identity:

Again, I stress, HJ went mining through the literature and isn’t able to justify this correlation. However, Zinnia is pointing out that it’s irrelevant as to whether or not an individual is capable of articulating their own needs when it comes to gender identity. In addition, Zinnia points out that if allistic people are more sensitive to social pressures, then we’re actually more likely to closet ourselves for our own safety, which may account for the disparity if it can be confirmed in the future.

Read more here.