Follow up to the Punisher cops: Logo Lawyer is Troubled

And FREEZE PEACH activists, for that matter.

One of the things that struck me the hardest in that story, at least after excluding the revelation that cops had actually placed punisher logos on their patrol cars anywhere, ever, much less huge logos covering nearly the entirely of the hoods, was the DeepThoughtsing™ of batshit dingleberry Roy Gutterman, head of the Syracuse Tully Center for Free Speech.

What did this “expert on communications law and the First Amendment” have to say that could help us appreciate precisely what had happened in Catlettsburg, Kentucky?

[Read more…]

Useless Vanity. Or Not.

Over on the PZ post “Let’s Smoke Out Some More TERFs” a discussion developed in which Susan Stryker & Sandy Stone were mentioned. In that thread, I mentioned being one person of, I am sure, many who were forced independently to coin “transfeminism” when the “trans-” prefix trend was emerging. From people like Sandy Stone and Sylvia Rivera who were adult activists while I was too young to control my bladder to youngsters like, well, me, a lot of work had been done incorporating feminism into trans* activism by the 1990s. However, it was always in a haphazard, highly individualized way. There wasn’t a broader and explicit call to make our trans* activism feminist or our feminism trans* inclusive. The movements were largely separate, both nominally and functionally, even if philosophically they were closely related in myriad ways.

In response to this observation that I was doing transfeminism before there was a word (or at least a publicly recognized word) for transfeminism, HJ Hornbeck asked if I was involved in the early transfeminist movement, even if neither I nor anyone else could ever be called a single originator or even indispensable to the movement. In response, I wrote a small personal history that after some thinking I decided I might want to be able to find again. So, I’m preserving it here in its own post even though both of my readers have probably already seen it on Pharyngula. Call it an exercise in personal vanity. Or call it oral history of an interesting time of transition. Call it whatever you like, but if you haven’t read it, here it is.

[Read more…]

Your Moment of Zenlike

Over on a post of PZ’s, zenlike has a particularly insightful comment. The OP is criticizing some bullshit commentary on Fox News about how trans folk are destroying the entire species of Homo sapiens:

We’re not talking about people who want to simply do a bit of reform here and there, add a new category. They want, they must, in fact, destroy whatever is in order to replace it with what they think should be.

[T]he trans people have taken it one step further because by abandoning gender altogether, not simply re-writing it, they’re basically trying to use social engineering to create a new species.

[presented out of order, because I think it’s easier to follow the logic that way – cd]

[Read more…]

OMGOMGOMG, Have You Heard Trump Talk Lately?

This quote from a Pi Day press conference is just precious:

if we had a proper wall, which we’re building now as we speak, and we’re getting a lot more funding for it, as you know, with what we’re talking about with the vote today, whether it’s positive or not, I’m vetoing it, unless I don’t have to veto, I think that’s unlikely, I’ll do a veto, it’s not going to be overturned. But we have done a great job at the border through apprehension.

The whole thing is a glorious clusterfuck of rhetorical fail, but I love the bit that benefits from interpretation as a Freudian admission he’s using fear mongering: “we have done a great job at the border through apprehension.”

And, of course, “whether it’s positive or not, I’m vetoing it, unless I don’t have to veto, I think that’s unlikely, I’ll do a veto”. Seriously. Every single day is like a celebration of the 25th to this guy … and I’m not talking Christmas.

 

 

The Incomparable Corrupting Influence of Judy Blume (Also: Call Your Senators)

It’s Banned Book Week! And I haven’t written anything about it yet! You must therefore read my Blume babbling! Let’s get started, eh?

So I recently wrote about a new cartoon, Human Kind Of, produced by Facebook. I love that cartoon in part because the pilot takes on the topics of periods generally and menarche specifically with anything but subtlety and sideways reference. Although I was happy to share the cartoon, and happy as well to be informed my link led to pop-up madness (something I’d missed from having 3 ad blockers in constant use), I was disappointed that no one seemed to comment on the ambiguity in the post’s title An Unholy Pit of Horrors Coughs Up Something Amazing.

[Read more…]

Achievement Unlocked! We don’t know what sexism is!

So in this great conversation we’re having that began with discussing whether TERFs are feminists ultimately required addressing the question, What is feminism? I gave an answer here:

if you work to end sexism, you’re probably a feminist.

After Hj Hornbeck posted a riff on Siggy’s original question (that riff is found here), I felt compelled to create my own post, with failed sarcasm calling this discussion a Fiiiiiiiiiggghht. In that, I repeated my proto-definition of feminism where Hj Hornbeck and others found it, furthering the conversation by discussing the perils of gate-keeping as well as other topics.

But let’s allow those topics to continue being discussed in their original venues. I’m interested in this astute reply to my definition delivered by Hj Hornbeck:

[Read more…]

That Dude Comes Out And Says It

So, a few years back I was wearing my Shirt That Changed The World. My particular version was, of course, the very best version. The logo read, “Transsexual Menace” like all the others, but being from Oregon, the tagline below read, “The Beaver State”. Really, there’s no other Transsexual Menace chapter that could possibly compete, unless there’s a chapter at a university somewhere that uses “Fighting Cocks” as its mascot (no, USC does not count, though being “game” is worth something, sure).

On the particular night I’m discussing, I was walking through Washington D.C. after a hard day’s fighting against violence and for civil rights at a national conference. I can’t even remember which one for certain – and anti-DV conference? An LGBT conference? Let’s let it go. In any case, I walked past the White House & had just crossed 17th, at which point Pennsylvania Avenue politely angled itself to point my ass to the building Trump now occupies. Right there, not two full blocks from the most elite bit of housing in the country, there were maybe twenty people camped out with sleeping bags on the sidewalk. One using a propane stove to heat up a beverage or maybe some soup looked up and upon seeing my t-shirt exclaimed,

That dude’s transsexual!

To which a next-door neighbor replied,

So what? It don’t matter. Just leave it be.*1

Whereupon the first, concerned about being misinterpreted, added,

Yeah, I know, but that dude comes out and says it! *2

In addition to being a pleasant statement on the state of cissexism in at least some communities in the US capital and a validation of Dallas Denny’s thesis that the Transsexual Menace t-shirts were a major turning point in trans/cis interactions, it struck me how such a simple statement of my perspective on the world could have the power to shock, even when absent the statement my perspective would still have been obvious.

That moment came back to me today as I read something Trump said to one of his rallies today:

Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening

Yes, I know: Trump has never hid the fact that he disbelieves reality. Yes, I know that the famous line from Duck Soup has already been used to paraphrase Trump in the past. And yet, there was power to shock in reading that he’d said exactly these words.

Of course, he won’t lose supporters over them. He probably read his audience accurately when he decided that this line would be received positively by the Veterans of Foreign Wars crowd to whom he spoke. Even so, we shouldn’t use the commitment of his followers as an excuse to let the words stand. If one can convince a majority of people that what they see for themselves isn’t true, then that person has constructed an honest-to-goodness, no hyperbole Orwellian state. We aren’t there yet, but the size and intransigence of Trump’s base, even if still a minority today, should galvanize us to fight tooth and nail.


*1: From tone of voice and context, I always interpreted this as a respectful plea to leave the issue of my transsexuality. Neither in the moment nor later did it come across as using the pronoun “it” to describe me in a dehumanizing way. As for the use of the word “dude” to describe me throughout, in that first moment I disliked it, and was about to say something. But after the second person spoke up, I decided that the best thing I could do was simply allow time and space for the first to process the sight of my shirt without any interference from me.

*2: And yes, I do remember all this perfectly verbatim. The moment was quite significant for me as I’d recently been bashed and was startled by the first statement. I paid very close attention to what followed as a way of assessing any potential danger. Fortunately, none existed. Though obviously that’s primarily down to the non-violence and respect of the people I met on that sidewalk, I credit Jessica Xavier with some small part of that: she played a huge leadership role in pro-trans* activism and education in DC in the years leading up to and following my experience.

Science Magazine is Failing Us

Science journalism is failing us in important ways. This post will be far shorter than I might like it to be, but I want it to be readable, and in any case I plan on following up soon with more information and also, I hope, a detailed action plan.

Here I simply want to point out a single article. In another post, I’ll also be discussing an article on the dismissal of Francisco Ayala from UC Irvine and the pattern of sexual harassment that led to that dismissal. But right now, let’s tackle an interesting article with a headline that is … terrible, in ways we will investigate later. The headline reads thus:

[Read more…]

Seneca Falls: 170 Years Ago This Weekend

One hundred seventy years ago this weekend (July 19-20, 1848), a group of 68 women and 32 men (or thereabouts*1) signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the climax of The Seneca Falls Convention. The document paralleled the Declaration of Independence in form, style, and tone. This wasn’t an accident: when Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her great work A Vindication of the Rights of Men, she herself was paralleling in language (such as the use of “sublime”) and in many of the arguments Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke. Though she made truly novel arguments as well, and many of them, one line of critique in AVRM was that Burke’s traditionalism and conservatism betray his own goals. In short, she thought he wrote of aspiring to ideals that the tactics and policies he advocated would make difficult or impossible to achieve.

The attendees of The Seneca Falls Convention felt much the same way about the founders of the United States of America. While they, like Wollstonecraft two generations before, were willing to part dramatically with the thinking of prominent patriarchal men, again like Wollstonecraft they sought to use the ideals and rhetoric of those patriarchs to gain something like a common understanding of what a nation and a society should be, then used their own arguments to show that current social and political policies undermined those goals.

They also paralleled the abolitionist activism of the time: largely because they were the abolitionist movement. TSFC came about because Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended London’s World Anti-Slavery Convention but were refused the ability to participate on the basis of gender.*2 The attendees of TSFC itself were largely Quakers and (almost?) entirely abolitionists. The natal feminist movement, then, was a subset of the anti-racist Abolitionist movement. As that mother movement made frequent rhetorical use of references to the Declaration of Independence, from today’s historical position we can another reason why something of the form of the Declaration of Sentiments was nearly inevitable.

Lucretia Mott was probably the best known organizer speaking globally, but Stanton was likely the best known and/or best respected in the Seneca County/Finger Lakes area. Stanton, as a non-Quaker, was also important in broadening the attendance beyond the local Quaker community which perhaps boosted the national importance of TSFC by ensuring it could not be dismissed as a sectarian activity relevant only to a minority religion. Together with their families – Mott’s sister Martha Coffin Wright was a stationmaster on the underground railroad and a respected activist in her own right, and Mott’s and Stanton’s husbands, both prominent abolitionists – the M’Clintock family and a woman named Jane Hunt, they were able to generate momentum for the conference quite quickly. It drew mainly locals, despite being advertised by Frederick Douglass in his national abolitionist paper, the North Star, and a few other outlets beyond the Finger Lakes area. But with Mott, Stanton, and Douglass in attendance, it did not lack for star power.

Many things that we would not now find controversial were debated seriously at the conference. In the crafting of the Declaration of Sentiments, Mott herself argued against including a women’s suffrage provision. Eventually, however, the arguments that this was to be an aspirational document and also that it would piss off the patriarchs with or without a suffrage provision convinced Mott and any other doubters. In the end, they produced this:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education—all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation,—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.

Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.

I think it is useful, from time to time, to revisit this document to see exactly what we have and have not achieved over the last 170 years. If you have any thoughts on any of these provisions, I’d love to see them below. Over the rest of the summer, I plan to produce periodic posts contemplating one of these provisions at a time. Your comments might just help me decide which provisions need attention, and if I use any of your observations, I’ll certainly credit you.

 

*1: We can, of course, not access information about the gender identity of those involved, but we can say that 68 persons were assigned to the gender role woman and 32 to the gender role man.

*2: They knew going in that they would be initially excluded, but there was to be a resolution allowing women to fully participate. The resolution failed and Mott and Stanton were left having traveled across the Atlantic only to be turned away at the door – presumably because they already had too many people working to end slavery and had to turn away half.