One from last Saturday, that I missed because there’s a lot. I’m missing most of it, I promise you. I hear reports, but I don’t see most of it.
It’s on Melby’s blog. Melby is one of the worst. The post is by H J Hornbeck. It starts on a friendly note, to soften you up.
It was about a year ago, I think, that I walked up to Ophelia Benson and said she was my favorite blogger on FtB. I adore her writing style, which feels like a conversation between old friends, and her frequent posts on international news were a breath of fresh air.
Even as those words were escaping my lips, though, I could see clouds on the horizon. I got burned by a TERF comic she once posted, which led me to do some research into Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism. The glib summary is “lesbians freaking out over potential penis,” which is surprisingly accurate.
Bam! the trap snaps shut on your paw.
It wasn’t a “TERF comic.” It was a comic done by someone who is (I’m told, and I take their word for it, which judging by the last few weeks may be a mistake) a TERF. Not a TERF comic but a comic posted by a TERF. In other words I did not knowingly post a TERF comic – the content wasn’t about trans issues.
So right at the outset he’s poisoned the well – he’s been dishonest. I did not post a TERF comic.
More worrying to me was what Benson didn’t do: learn from the situation. I saw no evidence she took a step back and reconsidered, on the contrary she went stony silent and refused to be pigeonholed. I brushed this off, but pinned a mental note in case it happened again.
Oh my god, I refused to be pigeonholed! Can you imagine?!
Take a step back and reconsider what? I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s easy to post good stuff by people who also do crappy things. It’s not something worth dragging people over the coals for. It’s not an issue. It’s an accident. Move on.
There’s a tension between the idea that gender is socially constructed and we get to shape it any way we want to, and the idea that it’s firmly binary and we are one or the other with no overlap or shaping allowed. This whole thing is just riddled with tensions, and it’s not transphobic to try to think about them.
It’s only in hindsight that can I explicity see the TERF influence.
Ahhhhhh now that’s a telling phrase. Maybe in “hindsight” he’s not seeing it, but constructing it or imagining it or projecting it. Maybe he’s reasoning backward from all these frantic claims by frothingly rabid Watchers, and deciding there is “TERF influence” simply because he’s been told it so many times. Point and hiss.
We also do not get to shape our constructs arbitrarily if we hope to use them as explanations. The tension is not from the interplay of constructs and reality, it’s from the misunderstanding of constructs in order to hide your bigotry.
That’s nice. That’s charming. That’s pleasant. Based on nothing so far, he’s decided I’m a bigot.
There’s a lot more ugly shit but that’s a good enough sample.
This will end at some point. I’ll talk about other things as soon as people let me.