The Moral Bankruptcy of Gender Critical Definitions of Man & Woman

This post will rely on a single individual as an example of so-called “gender critical” thought: Holms. Holms writes frequently on FtB, and has been engaging in a long back-and-forth with myself and many others over on Mano Singham’s blog recently. (This conversation is happening on the same blog post where Mano suggested the value of discussions of horizontal hostility.) I have been growing steadily more uncomfortable with the exchange because it long ago veered away from any discussion that might illuminate how and why horizontal and intra-community hostility develop within a particular group. While Mano has made no move to shut the conversation down or even to express any specific discomfort over the thread, I think it is respectful to a blog owner to have the conversations suggested by a post, and to start your own thread somewhere else if you want to have a different conversation. Thus this post.

The phenomenon I want to discuss begins with a discussion of Holms’ definitions of “man” and “woman”:

I have actually said that ‘man = adult male human’ and ‘woman = adult female human’ are the current meanings as determined by common use.

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Explaining Horizontal and Intra-Community Hostility: An Introduction by way of the FAE

So, over on Mano Singham’s blog, our resident physics expert wonders about a question outside his beam-control house:

[Given support for some aspects of the struggles against oppression targeting LGBTQIA folks for their gender, sex, or sexuality] what factors exist that are so strong that they can overcome the natural desire for solidarity with all the communities under the LGBTQIA umbrella[?]

Mano’s a smart guy, as are both my readers, so he already has some potentially informative analogs in mind: immigrant communities and nativist/colonial forms of oppression:

It is the case that on other issues such as xenophobia, some people may view some immigrant minorities as ‘worthy’ and others as ‘unworthy’ and favor the former over the latter

but this is only helpful because it establishes that such distinctions are possible and are not unique to LGBTQIA folks. It doesn’t answer the specific question about what forces divide what some might expect would be a [more] unified LGBTQIA community. So let’s work on answering that. I’m not exactly sure how many posts we’ll do in this series; I’ve not got it all mapped out. But it will be several, I’m sure, each trying to break off of this larger topic one manageable chunk.

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No, I Don’t Want Germaine Greer Beaten

Or Andy Lewis or mariamaclachlan or Maria MacLachlan (if those latter two are different people).

Sometimes I despair of getting this world right. I walk a pretty thin line in refusing to condemn self-defense specifically while abhorring violence generally. If we eliminated all violence except that which occurred when someone legitimately thought they were acting in self-defense we would still have far too much violence.

Existentialist radical feminists, the main feminist group from whom the categorical statements about defining women in ways that forever exclude the possibility of trans* self-determination regularly flow, do indeed spread a bunch of bullshit. gmcard, for instance, says that the definition of women has been “people without penises” since time immemorial. This is, decidedly, not true.

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The Nature of Reality Denial

PZ has an excellent post up, which I hope you’ve seen already, regarding the hatred of the Catholic bishops. I want to call out a small piece of that larger statement here:

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults.

If you read this as the bishops obviously intend you to read it, this portion of their statement says:

You can’t actually change your sex, so telling this to children is bad. Also, it’s even worse when you change the sex of another human being, particularly a child.

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Mama Monday: It’s the Mother’s Fault

So, Politico has just the story we need in the contemporary USA: a how-to for blaming everything Trump on a woman.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity—Trump is pretty consistently anti-shrink—but they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations for his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it, his failed marriages and his ill-tempered treatment of women who challenge him. And they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.

Crafty ‘Cubi of Candy Corn! This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?

Oh, yes. Oh yes indeed.

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Ten Bruggencate, Craig, and Epistemological Honesty

Though the two apologists in the title of this post are both Christians*1, there is a general problem for those asserting knowledge based on religious texts that is frequently a motivation*2 for epistemological inconsistency and even epistemological dishonesty.

The problem is this: all religious texts diverge from reality at multiple points. When this occurs, it becomes obvious that either one must compare text to reality to determine the truth of the text, or compare reality to the text to determine the truth of reality. Sye ten Bruggencate takes the position that reality is to be compared with the text to determine the truth of reality. Where reality differs from text, reality is wrong. Though ten Bruggencate would prefer to phrase this as “we are wrong about reality,” for him there is no evidence, there is nothing about reality that could ever be contradictory of the text. The text is the standard against which all else must be compared.

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A Timely Rebuttal to St. Anselm

We are, of course, all familiar with the ontological arguments of St. Anselm, in which he uses the existence of something greater than whatever you’re currently thinking about to prove that there must be a single greatest thing, because no one thing is ever greatest because there’s always something greater. Or something. I’m told it logics quite a bit, actually.

As one result of an unfortunate encounter for Anselm, over at Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub I found Anselm’s argument unfortunately demolished by a dick:  [Read more…]