Friday 30 November 2018

The Politics Of Transformation - Warning: TERF Triggering.

The Excluder Excluded: What does it say about the state of identity politics in New Zealand and around the world that if Germaine Greer, the Matriarch of Second Wave Feminism, announced she was intending to participate in the Auckland Pride Parade, then Labour's Manurewa MP, Louisa Wall, would do everything in her power to exclude her?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN that Labour’s Louisa Wall would ban Germaine Greer from the Auckland Pride Parade? What offence could the Matriarch of Second Wave Feminism possibly have committed to merit Wall’s exclusion?

Greer’s “crime” is deceptively innocuous. She refuses to abandon her opinion that human-beings come into this world as either women or men, and that simply declaring oneself to be a man or a woman is insufficient from an evidentiary perspective. Greer believes that gender is a matter of straightforward human biology. That it cannot be an act of will – or surgery.

When BBC Newsnight’s Kirsty Walk challenged her with the question: “If a man has his gender reassigned and outwardly – and he feels, inwardly – he is a woman. In your view can he be a woman or not?” Greer responded, with typical Australian bluntness: “No.” And when Walk observed that, to some people, her reaction might be considered insulting, the 76-year-old scholar replied: “I don’t care. People get insulted all the time. Australians get insulted every day of the week!”

That October 2015 interview contributed hugely to the steadily worsening ideological stand-off responsible for introducing the abbreviation “TERF” – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist – to the vocabulary of progressives around the world. Including, we now know, Louisa Wall, who was secretly recorded telling participants at a recent Pride Parade hui: “My whole thing is that I don’t want any TERFs at the Pride Parade!”

Wall’s position would appear to be that in the name of inclusion it is necessary to exclude the excluders. The Pride Parade, she says, must never be anything less than a celebration of the whole Rainbow Community. To challenge the right of trans individuals to define their own gender identity constitutes a hateful denial of their human rights. In Wall’s opinion it is vital that TERFs be prevented from disputing those rights.

Greer’s objection to the celebration of Male-to-Female transformers is classic Second Wave Feminist. When BBC Newsnight’s Walk confronted Greer with the example of Caitlyn Jenner, the former football hero and medal-winning Olympic decathlete who later became a glamorous participant in Keeping Up With The Kardashians, she replied: “I think it’s misogynist. I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this. That a man who goes to these lengths will be a better woman than someone who was just born a woman.”

Greer’s charge of misogyny goes to the heart of the conflict. Here is the author of The Female Eunuch, whose determination that women should embrace their femaleness fully and fearlessly made her a feminist icon for the whole Baby Boom Generation, rebelling angrily against the notion that gender is a fickle, fluid concept. Greer simply will not accept that womanhood is no less a cultural creation than a Versace gown – and just as easily knocked-off.

But, if gender is, indeed, a cultural artefact, then maleness is every bit as artificial as femaleness. What’s more, in a world dominated by aggressive and intolerant upholders of patriarchal values, the covering which males are expected to fasten over and around their bodies resembles much more a suit of medieval armour than it does a Versace gown.

What, therefore, could be more radical – more liberating – than the idea that all those human-beings who feel uncomfortable, confined, oppressed in their suit of armour can simply strip it off and throw it away? Or, conversely, that all those human-beings who long for the reassurance of iron and steel have every right to seek redemption in the armourer’s forge?

“Reject all binary choices!”, declare the singers of this new freedom song. “We can become the people our hearts have always told us we were.”

The Marxists would wearily interject that they have been here before. That human-beings become what the exigencies of existence require them to be. Hunters/gatherers, warriors/wives, workers/homemakers. The computers that define post-industrial societies may follow the logic of zeroes and ones, but the civilisation they are rapidly bringing into existence will have less to do with either/or dichotomies than any of the civilisations which preceded it. Hitherto, the chief preoccupation of human communities has been with survival. The new age which beckons to us from beyond the great test of climate change may be preoccupied with becoming.

The conservative clings to what was and what works. The radical reaches for what s/he yet may be.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 30 November 2018.


Puddleg said...

I was following you till the end. Which radical? The radical biology denier? (someone please explain how we can fix the climate and deny biological science at the same time - someone who doesn't understand sexual reproduction or evolutionary biology has no hope in hell of knowing how a cow works - and anyone who rewrites that biology to fit a political agenda has zero credibility as a climate advocate - note this please Greens.).
Or the radical feminists, who are far as I can see want 3 things.
1) to retain the protections women have because of vulnerabilities - lesser strength and more committed reproductive function - due to biological sex.
2) to have a sensible public health strategy in place for an epidemic of rapid-onset gender dysphoria such as has been seen in the UK, instead of a social activist fantasy that medicalisation makes better people
3) to have a voice as women; to be allowed to speak publicly for themselves on this issue on the same platforms as everyone else without men and former men and the women that side with them talking over them, past them, and when they do address them, abusing them.

Time does strange things and who would have predicted that I would understand what radical feminists want. Although actually most of these women aren't even that radical at all. But that's all from me, you need to listen to and engage with the women Wall and the online mobs call TERFs instead of me and those few other men who have finally find the backbone to tell you that you're not listening to women with important things to say.

Wooly transhumanism and blank-slatism won't cut it, Chris. The planet can't afford it, for a start.

Sam said...

Personally, I think TERFs should not be gender segregated. Equal oppurtunity of outcome :p

Athough I think climate deniers should be excluded from all normal movements.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit, I've mislaid my clutching pearls. I can't see why there is so much fuss about a bit of infighting within groups that have traditionally been marginalised, and to some extent still are. Pretty sure it's none of my business who does or doesn't get entry into the pride parade, which given Auckland's traffic, I wouldn't bother going to see anyway. They're people, people aren't perfect, people disagree. It's not as if the results of this disagreement are going to have earthshattering consequences – even for those involved.

greywarbler said...

Nothing that is shall stay the same, no matter how valued and good it has been. Is that the way that progessive nutters think?

Toilets meant for women can be used by men if they register as feeling female, or the women's is closest. Footpaths meant for pedestrians are opened up mainly for child cyclists, and become speedways for males, mainly, of all ages. These are not satisfactory to me because they remove the 'commons'.

This quote from The Communist Manifesto comes I think, from an earlier post on Bowalley Road. It seems largely to announce our future but I wish to repudiate it:

..."uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air."

Tom Hunter said...

It's not as if the results of this disagreement are going to have earthshattering consequences – even for those involved.

Chuckle. Presented with yet another case of Leftist autophagy Guerilla Surgeon throws up his hands in despair at the lack of collective kumbaya and goes all post-modernist.

In fact this disagreement will have consequences for the Left in general and for the participants in particular.

In the case of the latter it will happen when real fights start over trans-men, who've made no effort to transition beyond "feeling like a woman", start trotting into the changing rooms of the teenage daughters of feminists. It's already happened with one male prisoner in England who played this Oppressed Victim Angle, got into the woman's wing, and promptly starting raping woman.

When these actual human-shattering events happen we'll see whether the TERFS or the trans-supporters have the greater numbers and passion - but it will no longer be possible for the Left to dismiss the concerns about trans as solely those of religious conservatives as they have to date.

Which brings me to the former, which will uncover two things to the detriment of the Left.

First, revealed as being quite as nasty, judgemental and intolerant as "conservatives", these various Left-wing groups won't be able to pretend any longer that they're sweeties who care about the oppressed, thus losing the "nice" comparison.

Second, it'll be tough to act collectively to achieve the Left's other ideals. Once you've been hammered hard as a hateful, spiteful, ignorant, bigoted "trans-phobe" or "mysogynist", it's going to be as difficult to cuddle up to your fellow Lefty accusers as it is for Trotskyites and Stalinists to get together.

Hilary Taylor said...

I love Greer's unabashed refusal to get all squeamish about this and anything else for that matter. She's my favourite Australian along with Barry Humphries & Clive James..all original, authentic & satisfying. I'm with her/them.

Unknown said...

I am with Germaine on this one.

If you have a penis you are male. If you have a vagina you are female. If you have both you are intersex.

If you have a wang but you sincerely believe that you are female then you have a psychological disorder - and it is probably untreatable.

If I sincerely believe I am Julius Caesar does it mean I actually am Julius Caesar?

Transgender people deserve to be treated with compassion and respect - same as everyone else.

Tom Hunter said...

She's got more company Meghan Murphy, Twitter and the new trans misogyny:

I woke up this morning to a private message on Twitter from a young student. She had been warned that her account would be suspended if she ‘violated the rules’ again. Her crime? Tweeting details of Sheila Jeffreys’s book, Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism. Refusing to accept the mantra ‘Trans women are women’ is, in the eyes of many now, a crime, for which there must be punishment. Everyone from massive corporate social media machines to well-meaning liberals seem to be toeing the line.

Well meaning "liberals"?

Murphy has been repeatedly locked out since for tweeting the likes of ‘men aren’t women,’ ‘males can’t become female,’ and ‘what is the difference between a man and a transwoman?’. Her account was suspended on Friday. Twitter cited a tweet saying ‘Yeah it’s him’ as the reason, which referred to a man named Jonathan Yaniv, who had been making appointments with female beauticians in Vancouver, asking them to perform a ‘Brazilian’ bikini wax on him.
In a nutshell, when the beauticians declined to effectively wax Yaniv’s balls, explaining that they only offered the service for women, Yaniv took the women (16 in total) to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, in an attempt to sue them for thousands of dollars on account of ‘discrimination,’ claiming he was a woman.

Monty Python made this world. I just have to live in it.

Anyway, thank god it means the end of all those appalling unwatchable "female" sports - although if Richie McCaw comes out of retirement, declares he identifies as a woman, and plays against a "vintage" rugby team featuring Louise Wall, I'll pay good money to watch. :)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I am with Germaine on this one."
Naturally. Neither you nor Greer know anything about biology.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"In the case of the latter it will happen when real fights start over trans-men, who've made no effort to transition beyond "feeling like a woman", start trotting into the changing rooms of the teenage daughters of feminists."

More of the usual bullshit I see. In jurisdictions which have transitioned – pun intended – to gender neutral toilets there has been no increase in sexual attacks.Some countries of course have had gender neutral toilets for years. Sky hasn't fallen.
And in places with sexually segregated toilets, they have been a numerous cases of men dressing up as women to gain entry to the female toilets. Ordinary men. So hand me my fainting couch and my clutching pearls Rodney, I think we're done here.

manfred said...

I would be interested to know whether intersex folks are functionally male or female anyway with at least partial genitalia of the opposite sex.

Regardless of your views on the issue, I don't why it's become such a shibboleth for membership of the left.

Nick J said...

I like Grey's comment about removing the commons. The commons means those commonly agreed rights and responsibilities.

I never agreed, nor did the mass of heterosexual people to be labeled cisgender. We never commonly agreed that there were multiple genders, nor that gender was a social construct.

I can see Greer's viewpoint, she knows that there is still a long way to go to consolidate the gains made, more ground to break. That too we probably agree with. To me we don't agree with the creation of multiple fractured victimhoods with special identity statuses and "rights". Common tolerance for all yes, sacred victim status, no. The Left needs to divorce itself from these cause celebres.

Tom Hunter said...

More of the usual bullshit I see. In jurisdictions which have transitioned – pun intended – to gender neutral toilets there has been no increase in sexual attacks.Some countries of course have had gender neutral toilets for years. Sky hasn't fallen.
So hand me my fainting couch and my clutching pearls Rodney, I think we're done here.

Sheesh, Guerilla Surgeon's dismissive mysogny is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Toilets can be made individual - other spaces for women, not so much.

Let's face it, Guerilla Surgeon can only deal with these arguments when he can bang the old drum about "square" religious conservatives objecting. Faced with actual feminists, he should probably just sit down, be quiet and listen to what she has to say on this, Dr Jane Clare Jones:

We have no reason to believe that male people stop committing male pattern violence when they identify as women, and we actually have enough evidence to falsify the claim that they don’t – although we don’t have good enough data. We should probably get good enough data before we experiment with women’s safety don’t you think? The point is this. Women, under these circumstances, have good reason to say ‘no.’

Many many women are saying no. You are supporting an political movement that is attempting to demonise women, and to use that demonisation to mobilise pressure, violence and threats to intimidate and coerce women who are saying no.

That is, to underline, you are supporting a movement that is using violence to coerce women who are saying no. What does that sound like to you?
But asking for data will get you called a transphobe lickity-split.
we have every right to not want to grant them access to our intimate spaces in large numbers under any form of self-ID arrangement. Most of us think the solution in third spaces. ideally I think, organised by gender, so that women can make the choice if they want to use a sex segregated or a gender segregated space. But you cannot remove sex-segregated space from women without their consent, and over against their explicit protest, and claim that is just.

Jens Meder said...

Manfred - is it perhaps because the Left wants "everything for all" with no practical answer about how to achieve it - the possibly impossible ?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Regardless of your views on the issue, I don't why it's become such a shibboleth for membership of the left."

No idea what you mean by that.
Support for transgender people is a distinguishing featureof the left?
Membership of the LGBT community is a distinguishing feature of the left?
Arguing about said LGBT community is a distinguishing feature of the left?
Personally, this old leftist is laughing like a drain at conservatives arguing over a disagreement between two groups they at least affect to despise.

Tom Hunter said...

Another classic example - and note the key here is changing rooms: large, open spaces, rather than toilets...

Violating Privacy:

The moment I walked into our girls’ restroom and found a boy standing there, I turned and fled — the school’s surveillance video caught me running out. I tried to get the attention of administrators to explain to them how uncomfortable — how scared — I felt sharing the girls’ restroom with a boy. They wouldn’t listen. The principal simply wrote down my concerns on a Post-it note and said he’d contact me soon. He never did.

My parents were no less shocked by this new policy. Boyertown officials kept it a secret from them, too. The administrators never sent home a memo saying that, from now on, our school locker rooms would be open to students based on what sex students believed themselves to be.

"He never did". Classic misogny - or at least it would have been a few years ago. Here in 2018, with all the talk of #BelieveAll Woman and worries about the sexual assaults of girls at schools and universities, you would think that the fears of one who feels herself to be potentially in danger of sexual assault would merit more attention.

But she's not enough of a victim, so the only voices being listened to or broadcast by the media were those of the transgender activists.

Four legs good. Two legs bad.

Until the next transition.

Shellez said...

"But, if gender is, indeed, a cultural artefact, then maleness is every bit as artificial as femaleness."

Gender is a cultural artefact, it changes over time and culture. It's the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that none of us really fit and which in past times limited women's potential as they were denied rights to participate in public life.

Maleness and femaleness are biology, there are two reproductive classes. One has the babies. This is fixed and can't be dispensed with. Being male or female and the lived experience of being a person that sex is not a feeling nor an identity you can adopt. You can of course strip away gender, you are not determined by stereotypes but these days they say if your personality and likes don't fit your sex, you must be the opposite sex. But really, you should be able to have any type of personality, your sex doesn't determine that.

Who are TERF's supposedly excluding? It's men. The definition of woman is adult human female, and women have rights as a defined group. They chant the mantra, they try and erase women as non-men, uterus bearers, menstruators, pregnant people, sex is a spectrum so you don't exist as a class at all in order to be able to insert men in there. They don't belong there and this impacts on women's rights in all sorts of ways, including rights to sex-separated spaces, sports, prisons, meetings. It isn't liberating to lose rights, and worse, lose those hard fought rights to men. The big tell here is the reaction to women asserting their rights to be a defined group as Greer does. She's saying no, and it gets you banned.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Sheesh, Guerilla Surgeon's dismissive mysogny is so thick you could cut it with a knife."
Dismissive yes. Misogynistic no. And if you going to accuse people of being stupid, you should learn to spell.

manfred said...

What I mean is, why do we have to believe that you can choose your gender... or your that gender is defined by something other than biology in order to be left?

Pretty simple statement, I don't see why you have to be an arrogant ponce about it.

I myself was radicalised about 20 years ago and identify as an anti-capitalist socialist. I am also a pretty devout liberal Muslim. I support LGBT rights to the hilt. What I don't agree with is the view that being male or female is defined by anything other than biology.

I do agree that traditional definitions and standards of masculinity or femininity are often false, should be re-explored and should never be forced on anyone. People should have the right to identify with any number of gender identities and such choices should be respected. That includes calling people by their chosen gender pronouns.

I just don't believe that you can become a woman or a man simply by choice.

However, it is rare for someone like me to be able to participate in left struggles with these beliefs because narrow thinkers like you shout and scream in order to marginalise dissenters.

How are you going to approach organising with the Muslim community for instance with those views? The polarity between male and female is a very essential first principle for Muslims. The answer of course is pluralism. I'm prepared to tolerate your assertions, just not to the point where you don't tolerate mine.

Your configuration of liberal and otherwise is not the only legitimate tendency on the left - if taken in the context of history, you represent just one rarified eccentric viewpoint which is mostly confined to upper middle class liberals who pursue their activism only on the internet. Stand back and look at what the left really represents and the myriad of pathways both theoretical and practical that leftists have taken/ Then try and have less blind intolerance for people who don't subscribe to ever single last one of your positions.

Tom Hunter said...

A Colorado Democrat whom female colleagues had accused earlier this year of frequenting a women’s restroom inside the Statehouse is resigning, a spokesman said Wednesday.

But Republican state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik said several women claimed to have seen Kagan using a women’s restroom multiple times since January 2017. She filed a workplace sexual harassment complaint against Kagan in March.

All of which could have been resolved if Kagan had simply said that he now identifies as a woman.

#StopSexualHarassement has been replaced by #TransMeansNotSorry

New rules!

New fun.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"What I mean is, why do we have to believe that you can choose your gender... or your that gender is defined by something other than biology in order to be left?"

That is a simple statement, and if you'd said that in the first place I would have understood it. Instead you went for the arrogant poncy stuff which I didn't. I don't see why a request for clarification should be seen as arrogant and poncy but that's on you.
I talked to a biologist about this whole thing about a year ago. Most of it went over my head, but apparently there can be quite valid biological reasons why people feel that they are in the wrong body.
It's not as if as you put it "people can choose their gender". Jesus wept what you think they are thinking – "oh I think I'll become a woman for Christmas because they get better presents"? Or "shit I think be a woman because they have such a great life compared to men? Can't wait to be sexually harassed." I don't think somehow that someone decides lightly to change their sex, considering it involves operations, medication and long stays in hospital. Perhaps, if you can find a book that is not too arrogant and poncy for you, you might read up on it. I would recommend this.

The Riddle of Gender

Tiger Mountain said...

Well, this is an issue few will be able to credibly claim absolute authority on, as it develops apace with new acronyms regularly added to the Trans/gender dysphoria ranks.

Post modernist and to some extent neo liberal psychologies, have helped lead society to this place–“me me me–mine mine mine” is where it is at for many rather than the welfare of the “group”. One group once included people like me that wore “HUG” badges in the 80s to march for Homosexual Law Reform as it was called in more conservative times. Or groups of women that put themselves on the line against sleazy X rated film purveyors and sexual harassment at work. But I digress.

One thing that many could agree on perhaps, is that anyone that is oppressed or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual identification or orientation, should be supported where possible by those not so oppressed, it is known as solidarity. It is extremely easy to find differences and contradictions within and amongst the oppressed. But there will likely be a point of unity to be found rather than just stand off and put this issue in the too hard folder.

Solidarity of course is not necessarily automatically forthcoming, but is where left people with any degree of class analysis should be coming from. Seeking that point which might somehow unite people, instead of like Germaine using her historical gender identity struggle against other people struggling to legitimise their own identities and live in society as freely as possible!

greywarbler said...

If you have a penis you are male. If you have a vagina you are female. If you have both you are intersex.

If you have a wang but you sincerely believe that you are female then you have a psychological disorder - and it is probably untreatable.

Shane attempts to define the problem. If these points are considered then
it seems straightforward.

If a man wants to be a woman and goes through all the palaver of changing - quite difficult (see Jan Morris on that) - then they will look and feel like a woman and no one will be questioning their use of intimate spaces reserved for women.

If a man feels like a woman, it doesn't mean that he then can just presume the same rights. Even if he managed some legal change he still is functionally a man, and can use the urinals, or go to the cubicles like all the other blokes. No-one is preventing him from identifying with women in his mind, just as no-one is preventing a woman from identifying with a man's attitudes. But society works on male-female lines. I like having some space for my gender. If the toilets are briefly out of service for the other gender or there is an emergency, that would prompt courteous consideration. But give us our own space please. Large unisex toilets may suit overseas but are not ideal.

David Stone said...

Grey; I don't know how it feels to be you. You don't know how it feels to be me. No-one knows how it feels to be anyone else and no man knows how it feels to be a woman. And no woman feels how it is to be a man; or how it feels to be any other woman.
For a man to say he feels like a woman is bullshit. He doesn't know how a woman feels. Which woman does he feel like for gods sake.
We live in a post truth world of madness. The more mankind knows about the world the more he seems to prefer fantasy .
I'm not buying into it.

greywarbler said...

I am looking at it as practically as poss. David Stone. You can't say you aren't buying into the world, you are in it, mad as it is. One has to constantly adapt or resist its flow. There is a wonderful woman called Jan Morris (travel writer) who used to be a very fit forceful man, and decided forcefully that he wanted to be a woman, and went though all the palaver of changing. I wouldn't deny her the right to be herself and use the Ladies.

But let's have spaces for the different genders, it is a pleasure to get away from the others for a while sometimes don't you think. And if the other gender cares enough to make bodily and mental changes then let them join the fraternity.

Kirkegaard has a set of queries to apply to our Creator.
“I stick my finger in existence — it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? etc.