Thursday, February 19, 2015

Two takes on the problem of violence against transwomen

Leftist man: This is the fault of TERFs. They create a transphobic environment.

Feminist: Transwomen aren't killed by some evil force in the environment called "transphobia," which is somehow created by women knowing penis is male. Transwomen are killed by men. And a feminist analysis of gender explains why.

Leftist man: That's real cute, the little lady thinks she can analyze things. No, sweetie, gender is the sex of your brain. You for instance have a ladybrain. You know nothing. Let the men talk.

Feminist: Brains don't have a sex. Brains are not organs of reproduction. Gender is a social system of compulsory masculinity for men, compulsory femininity for women, and compulsory heterosexuality for both. One of the ways gender is enforced is that gender-conforming males police the masculinity of other males. They punish feminine males because feminine males undermine the idea that masculinity is innate and thus male violence is inevitable and can always prop up male supremacy. Without gender, men would have neither justification nor excuse for their violence against anyone.

Leftist man: I can't believe you think there is some "social system" propping up male supremacy, you nutcase extremist. Clearly men are just naturally superior and here I am, being all nice and pretending like women are people and not just defective penis-less men who are only good for supplying us with their sexual and emotional labor, and you're giving me lip? Listen, bitch, if women would just accept that penis is female if the penis-haver says so, transwomen would be safe.

Feminist: The homophobic men who kill transwomen don't care what I say. If you want transwomen to be safe, you have to give up the myth of innate masculinity and make other men do the same.

Leftist man: TERF! Get her! She's a TERF!

~End Scene~

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Natacha/Mark provides a rich AFTA text for feminist analysis

This post is about, though not in response to, this drivel:

Natacha, true to form, begins with a lie. Natacha was not forwarded this letter from an anonymous source. Natacha is on the mailing list for Goldsmiths at the University of London, a group to whom the letter was sent for possible signatures. Except of course, "Natascha" is listed there as Mark Hellen. Mark Hellen is "Natacha's" male name.

That's right, Natacha only "lives as a woman" part-time. Apparently, Natacha might also experience a kind of multiple personality disorder that allows a person to publish a paper as two people:

I'm not going to waste my time with a point-by-point rebuttal of Natacha/Mark's post, as anyone who actually cares about the Nordic model can do their own research. Also, I've already written about the absurd idea that college students shouldn't have to confront "offensive" views. I'm only interested in how this post so helpfully illustrates several key AFTA (anti-feminist trans activist) themes:

1) The rhetorical marriage of the anti-feminist propaganda terms SWERF and TERF. SWERF supposedly stands for Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist and TERF supposedly stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Except SWERF is routinely applied to abolitionist women who have survived prostitution, and TERF is routinely applied to any transsexual person who questions modern transgender identity politics (aka brain sex.) In reality, SWERF means anyone who thinks men do not have the right to stick their dicks in women for money, and TERF means anyone who thinks men do not have the right to empty the word "woman" of both its biological and political meanings (female bodies and lifelong feminine socialization). More on SWERF & TERF in a bit.

2) The concurrent a) representation of any [failure to capitulate totally to any self-identified "trans" person] as abuse and b) dismissal of actual intimidation tactics by "trans" activists. "Germaine Greer did not want to work with Roz Kaveney" becomes "Germaine Greer censored Roz Kaveney," while "trans activists sought to end Rupert Green's political career" becomes "well, he deserved it."

3) At the core of this and most AFTA blog posts is the idea that "TERFs" deny them their "right to exist." Of course, pointing out that someone is male does not mean you don't think they exist. Neither does pointing out that someone is male mean you want them dead.

In order to distract from the absurdity of this claim, (white, middle class) AFTAs must routinely co-opt the real male violence faced by poor transwomen of color who are *dun dun dun* engaged in prostitution, and blame that male violence on the evil TERFs. The male violence endemic to an industry that presumes males are entitled to use other humans' bodies as masturbatory aids is co-opted by privileged assholes in order to monster feminists.

To be clear, women don't place transwomen in danger by knowing they are male. Men don't attack transwomen for being male, they attack transwomen for threatening their masculinity. Masculinity, which is to say "gender" in the feminist sense of the term, is the problem. You don't stop men from attacking transwomen by pretending male is female any more than you stop white men from shooting black people by pretending black is white. Play-pretend is not how grown-ups solve problems.

But AFTAs don't care about solving the problem of violence against poor transwomen of color, only weaponizing it on their own behalf.

4) Furthermore, AFTA claims of erasure are pure patriarchal reversal.

Whose existence is being erased? Do we have any words left to describe ova-producing people without reference to sperm-producing people? What spaces are left for us? What analyses? None.

Universities are both important and dangerous for trans people? What about female students who might like some tools to describe and fight their oppression? You know, the same female people who face something like a 1 in 4.5 chance of sexual assault on college campuses? Nothing for them? Great.

And of course, feminists who think "woman" is a material reality - that we are born into female bodies and face lifetimes of socialization as second class citizens - are categorized as a fringe minority who offer "no critique of gender." Our lived reality, erased. Decades of feminist analyses, erased.


5) I discussed above the rhetorical marriage of the anti-feminist propaganda terms TERF and SWERF. You can read TERF as "person who does not prioritize male feelings" and SWERF as "person who does not prioritize male orgasms." However, after spending more than a year on Twitter observing the behavior of AFTAs, I'm gonna go ahead and say both terms are about putting male orgasms at the center of feminism.

In re. prostitution: Men view assisted orgasms as their human right. (Amnesty fucking International backs them up on this.) Men supposedly need to use other humans' bodies (usually women, sometimes men, more often than you might like to think, children) as masturbatory aids, so we must designate an underclass to serve those men who cannot find another person to serve as said masturbatory aid in the spirit of mutual desire. Otherwise, men might take their "needs" out on the "good" women. This assumption lies at the heart of all arguments for legalizing the purchase of sexual access to another person's body. No one is concerned about women having a designated underclass to serve our sexual needs. No one is concerned about men learning an adult level of self-control. Easy access to assisted penile orgasm is all that matters. Except, of course, to those evil evil SWERFs.

AFTAs, meanwhile, get their kicks a different way. This article illuminates some of the psychological facets of autogynephilia, including its high correlation with masochism:

AFTAs find sexual pleasure in both viewing themselves and having others view them as women - but not just any old women. The most oppressed women ever. The most distressed of damsels. And social media enables them to act out masochistic fantasies in front of an adoring audience from the comfort of home.

How does a white male with an academic post under a male name at the University of London play at Most Oppressed? The same way this white male with a yacht or this white male college student does:

Log on to the internet: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, pick your favorite. Claim to "feel like a woman." Wait for some uppity female person to ask what that could possibly mean. If you don't get a bite right away, try something a bit more provocative:

As soon as you are questioned in any way, cry TERF, and portray any questioning of your feelings and demands as equivalent to murder:

DON'T WORRY, nobody will question the assertion that a woman calling a white middle or upper class, usually heterosexual male with a fully intact penis "he" on the internet will cause other males to murder poor transwomen of color who are engaged in prostitution. Nobody will do the Google search necessary to find out that 1 in 12 estimate was back-of-the-envelope and only ever meant to apply to people who were profoundly transsexual from an early age. Nor will anyone question the assertion that a male person privileged along several axes of power has the right to demand all strangers recognize and pander to his self-professed special gender feelz on pain of suicide threat, while women are told we must call ourselves "cis" because unless we claim to "feel male" we must have ladybrains and innately deserve our oppression

After all, people HATE to question male entitlement and LOVE to blame women for male suffering. So you're all set. Assert that female biology is a social construct and feminine socialization is a privilege, then flail about crying hate, murder, "you don't want me to exist," abuse abuse suicide when any feminist dares question your anti-feminist presuppositions. Legions of loyal fans will line up to wipe your tears and smear your enemies, because most mainstream liberals would rather spew piousness than engage in one second of critical thought. They'll eat it up when you opine on the necessity of sterilizing gender non-conforming children even as young transwomen stop attending support groups because they've been taken over by pervy late transitioners.

Now, don't concern yourself with the plight of those kids, nor the plight of poor transwomen of color - don't feel you must do anything that might address the intersecting structural inequalities of sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia, and don't feel guilty that you're trampling those realities into dust with your histrionic hear-tearing about pronouns and temper tantrums about mean lesbians who won't suck dick. You don't need to worry about GNC kids or poor transwomen of color any more than the pimps trotting out highly-paid escorts as poster girls for "sex work" need to worry about the millions of victims of sex trafficking. Actual victims of actual violence don't matter here. The only thing that matters is that you can leverage the suffering of those victims for penile orgasms. In this case, autogynephilic, masochistic penile orgasms.

AFTAs claim to hate TERFs, but I posit that when they type "TERFs want to debate my existence" they're typing one-handed, trolling for unpaid dominatrix services. Let's not play along.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why would privileged college students want to avoid debate?

There's a lot with which to take issue in this article: Safe space or free speech? The crisis around debate at UK universities, not least of which is the framing: if students don't have free speech, students are not safe. But I'd like to take a look at one passage in particular, which presents the view of Tim Squirrel, former president of the Cambridge Union:

“Safe space gets a bit of a bad rap,” he says. “Most of the people involved in advocating these types of policies don’t mind debate; they just they don’t want to do so in their homes with strangers.

“Every time you invite someone like Germaine Greer on to campus, or someone who disagrees with the rights of sex workers to do their work, or a racist or a homophobe, you’re not endorsing their views, but you’re legitimating their views as something that’s up for discussion. There’s a place for that discussion, but the question of whether it should happen in people’s homes is a difficult one. Greer doesn’t think trans women are real women. These are not abstract issues. They affect real people.

“I know someone in the debating circuit who used to say to teams: ‘If you think your case is offensive, you haven’t found the right case to make. You should go back and find another one which doesn’t appear prima facie to be offensive. There are ways of debating these things which aren’t hurtful.”

This statement represents everything that goes wrong when we treat higher education as a vacation for entitled rich kids, rather than a privilege for young people who want to commit to several years of intellectual exploration, with all the assorted responsibilities that should accompany such an opportunity.

1) No one is asking students to invite strangers into their dorm rooms for contentious debate, although damned if daily, spirited debates in every setting imaginable weren't part and parcel of my college experience - as I was there to think and grow. However, the entire campus is not a student's "home," nor is everyone there meant to coddle them. Going to classes and extracurricular events are part of a student's work, their intellectual work, which they are privileged to spend several years exploring, rather than heading off to the military, or minimum wage drudgery, or whatever else their less privileged contemporaries must get on with.

2) Of course offensive views are up for discussion. OF COURSE THEY ARE. Offensive views are being written into laws and policies the world over. If you do not learn to engage those views honestly and constructively, like thinking adults, how in the world do you think you will deconstruct them - and provide viable alternatives - in the real world?

During my final days at university, Charles Murray came to our campus, and I attended his presentation. Afterwards, I watched as -one by one and with calm composure- students rose to ask him detailed, pointed questions about his historical and statistical methods. These questions wrecked his racist suppositions. I thought to myself, with relief and pride, "My classmates are prepared to go out and do real good in the world."

If you actually care about social justice issues, spending four years in university plugging your ears and shouting buzz phrases will render you about as prepared for real social justice work as a soldier whose only skill on the battlefield is to yell "don't shoot!"

3) Then there is the real question: For whom are campus spaces supposedly safe? To whom are these debates hurtful?

Generally speaking, any debate on social issues threatens to highlight the rampant insincerity of campus social justice warriors.

If a student is unwilling to entertain debate on sensitive matters of race, religion, sexuality, you name it, my first thought is that they are unable to defend their stated positions. Hell, most of the students advocating for no-platform policies aren't even able to define their positions without the use of deliberately obtuse and polarizing language, language which they have parroted with no independent analysis of their own.

But the problem goes beyond intellectual superficiality. Unlike my undergraduate cohort, I doubt these students would welcome the opportunity to calmly and systematically refute racist theories, and I suspect this is because they actually believe those racist theories to be true, and they consider their willingness to lie about that, and to spew sanctimony at those who state out loud their own secretly held views, to be a form of moral righteousness. (And of course it is their own white righteousness that is most important, not any concrete action that could address the systematic exploitation, imprisonment and murder of people of color, from which all white people benefit.)

But more specifically, the recent no-platforming of (supposedly) controversial feminists is very obviously meant to protect male privilege.

There's a reason you see the no-platforming of feminists lumped in with the no-platforming of racists and homophobes - male privilege/female oppression is the only axis of power relations that is deemed unacceptable for investigation by the modern Left.

Just look at the language of the privileged white dude above: he describes a woman who supports the Nordic model as "someone who disagrees with the rights of sex workers to do their work." The Nordic model explicitly supports the decriminalization of women who sell sexual access to their bodies. At issue is the criminalization of men who feel entitled to buy sexual access to women's bodies - but apparently male entitlement to female bodies is not up for debate on the Left.

Also not up for debate on the Left: the thought-terminating cliche that "trans women are real women." Do women have the right to a word for adult female humans? Do we get a word for those humans who were recognized as female at or before birth, who grew up under a regime of oppressive feminine socialization? Do we get a word for those humans who went through the specific hell of female puberty in a rape culture? Do we get a word for that class of humans that menstruates, that is vulnerable to pregnancy, that does 99% of the work of reproducing the species? What does it mean for our protections under the law if we cannot even name ourselves? How can feminism, the movement for the liberation of women, continue to exist if men are allowed to re-define "woman" however and whenever they like?

Furthermore, who does it really protect to shunt "not-masculine-enough" males into the woman box? Could it be that as women have expanded our acceptable sex roles, men have lost access to their traditional supply of emotional, sexual, reproductive and domestic labor? Could it be that as women have become more independent of them, men have had to question their core masculine identities? Could it be that this idea of "real men" vs. women-in-men's-bodies is actually all about protecting male privilege? Again, none of these questions are up for debate on the Left.

Privileged, mainstream, anti-intellectual students regularly conflate homosexuality with transsexuality. Is this because they truly believe that gay men are actually women in men's bodies and lesbians are actually men in women's bodies? Does transgenderist brain sex theory exist to diffuse the threat gay rights pose to compulsory heterosexuality, which is central to male privilege? Shouldn't we consider how brain sex theory is putting gender non-conforming children of both sexes - our best hope for a more feminist generation - on the route to medical sterilization? Again, these questions are not up for debate on the Left.

These students don't want debate because they don't want to do the work of real change. Instead, they want a shortcut to claiming their place on "the right side of history." They do not care for the difficult, messy, fraught work that must be done to get to the root of any given social problem. They certainly don't want to question the extent to which their own privileges would be threatened by a more justly structured world. They just want to yell the most superficially right-on slogans and have that performance recorded for posterity on their social media platform of choice.

Engaging difference - rather than screaming buzzphrases - means acknowledging that difference might have an actual effect on your own life. It means putting your own understanding of the world - which almost always involves rationalizing your own privilege - at risk.

Fortunately for those on the wrong side of history, Leftist students now enthusiastically offer themselves up as enemies of the critical thought that is necessary to achieve the liberatory goals they claim to hold. Female students on college campuses face an epidemic of sexual violence at the hands of entitled males, even as they are banned from merely naming maleness and femaleness for the sake of "safe spaces." It is as it always has been: the only people entitled to either free speech or safe spaces are those people who were born and raised white and male.