Tag: Gender

Ed Pilkington’s excoriation of the ways in which “America’s deep and brutal fault lines […] rendered the country ill-prepared to meet the challenges of this disease” easily can be read by the light cast by Venkatesh Rao’s exploration of how the Black Death “brought a bunch of strong historical forces, which had been building up pressure, to a crisis point”.

Warren’s unbridled bellicosity Wednesday night offered an unconventional answer to that question. Some saw her performance as an act of desperation: a flagging candidate seeking discount media coverage with a parade of quotable moments. Or it may have been more strategic: driving a stake through the heart of the revenant stop-and-frisk architect, as a televised show of devotion for progressive and black voters. Either way, as countless postdebate write-ups have already pointed out, it was a return to the “fighter” identity that Massachusetts voted for in 2012. But that’s underselling its novelty.

From The Radicalism of Warren’s Unapologetic Aggression by Heather Souvaine Horn (via Pete Brown)

To be honest what I appreciate most here might be that someone went to a lot of effort first to enpinken a priority mail label and then write this on it.

People trying to argue “context” for these Bloomberg remarks don’t seem to notice that even in-context they are pretty problematic. For one thing, no: he isn’t “quoting someone else”. He starts to quote a hypothetical person in “the middle of the country”—itself a well-defined dog whistle—but then switches the structure of his remark to an observation. In that observation, he refers to transgender people disparagingly, and even if he still means to be using “someone else’s” derogatory language, he does not actually offer an aside that the language is derogatory or inappropriate. This, too, is a dog-whistly attempt not to alienate people who don’t find the language derogatory but simply (and incorrectly) factual. What’s more, he then makes the argument that “most people” just care about things like health care, education, and safety. Again, this construction of “most people” is the same dog-whistle as “real Americans”. These “social issues” like transgender equality, he says, have “little relevance to people who are trying to live in a world that’s changing because of technology”—as if transgender people aren’t in fact included among people trying to live in a world that’s changing because of technology. This is the context which supposedly saves these remarks?

I want to highlight this systematic demand that women shut up because it’s the entire problem, isn’t it? I know some people spoke from a place of distress and anger (none of us is perfect on the internet, and especially when tragedy hits, emotions go raw). But others spoke from a deeper sense of entitlement to have pubic spaces and conversations cater to their comfort, and evinced a raw rage when women stepped out of our appointed place as quiet caretakers, deferential to others’ desires. “Shut up, bitch” isn’t disagreement. It’s telling on yourself.

From A Fuller Reckoning by Jill Filipovic

Famous author J.K. Rowling today spoiled her new book, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists and Where to Find Them, by revealing you can find them right there on her own Twitter account. Judging by the comparative engagement numbers (replies, retweets, likes), I’m wondering to where all the non-TERF Harry Potter fans disappeared.

Of all the personal taglines I’ve used online over the past twenty-six years, the current I think basically sums it up: “Mediocre white guy.” I feel compelled, then, to share a bit from Michael Harriot’s write-up of a phone call with Pete Buttigieg.

“A mediocre white kid with mediocre intelligence and mediocre parents can easily make it in America,” I explained, blackly. “A smart black kid with smart parents and a supportive community still has to fight every day to hope to reach the levels of what a mediocre white man accomplishes. And, odds are, they still might not make it.”

When I actively refer to myself as a mediocre white guy, I don’t mean it to suggest an ignorance of the above; the world is full of mediocre white guys lavishing upon themselves successful lives, if not also inflicting the downsides of that success upon the people around them.

It’s true that generally I consider myself a failure and a fuckup, up to and including as an actually-autistic person who feels more or less constantly barraged by the existence of successful autistic people. It’s also true that there are many backgrounds from which I could have come that would not have afforded me to fail and fuckup so regularly at life, across four decades, and yet still be housed, fed, and yet nonetheless remain, for now, essentially comfortable.

All of which I’d wanted to sit down and mention for the past few days anyway, but today felt like the day to do it because I got so (autistically?) rankled over a Twitter thread about criticism of a book by an autistic teen in which the reviewer focuses on questions of privilege.

(This included pushback against the reviewer calling out Greta Thunberg’s privilege and while they definitely pushed the line here they also aren’t wrong. Does anyone think a black African teenager skipping school or sailing across the ocean would generate the same sorts of coverage as Thunberg? That doesn’t take away from Thunberg’s passion and commitment, but denying her privilege seems weird to me. The author is right that privilege is relative—it’s certainly different to be a white man versus a white woman—but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. To suggest “privilege” is a “dangerous” term, though, is very problematic and convenient; “privilege” does not mean “never had any problems”.)

Much of the support given to the author seems to suggest that the review says more about the reviewer than it does about the author, but that seems to me almost exactly the very point the reviewer was making: the book effectively is about the author but presented as universally applicable.

It’s not, after all, The White Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide: How to Grow Up Awesome and Autistic or even just One Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide: How I Grew Up Awesome and Autistic but The Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide: How to Grow Up Awesome and Autistic.

No one appears to have suggested that book not be written at all, per se, including the reviewer’s wish that the book had addressed “our patriarchal, racist, sexist, capitalist society”, but the author’s response that “these topics would have involved writing a very different book aimed at a very different audience” and that she “wasn’t qualified to write about racism” very much reads as a white-as-default perspective.

That’s what “these topics would have involved writing a very different book aimed at a very different audience” means, in the end, regardless of intention or self-awareness. The author wrote a book about her own of-course-valid experiences but the book is presented as for the “spectrum girl”.

I’ve talked before about how exhausting I find autism Twitter, which is why I unfollowed most of it, and while the Twitter thread isn’t necessarily representative, I only learned of it because a prominent actually-autistic account retweeted the author’s original post. This is a community that sometimes talks up intersectionality, and yet doesn’t seem to see the fail here.

Who and what is the “the” in “The Spectrum Girl”, if not the author representing what’s viewed as the default experience, with considerations of things like race being for “a very different audience”?

Being white and privileged doesn’t mean you never get to speak, but in 2019 it does mean you’ve a responsibility to be more self-aware about the position from which you get to do that speaking. You don’t get a pass because you’re white, privileged, and autistic. Or young.

Is there a The Black Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide? Not according to this Amazon search. Even publishing a book is a position of privilege, and it shouldn’t be controversial to suggest that should be acknowledged by those who get to do it.

Whitney M. Fishburn decided she had some things to say about transgender identity and transgender politics, and while as another cisgender person I’m going to tread lightly here, one paragraph seems especially of note.

And that is really why I was thinking so much about transgenders: are they showing us something else “trans”, namely, transcendence? Are they the leading edge of a new way to be human? Could they possibly be the bridge, or at least a bridge to a world where humans live peacefully with artificial intelligence? After all, so many transgenders, especially transvestites who have elevated the art form to drag, are expert at artifice, emphasis on “art”, the root that is common to both “artifice” and “artificial”. Drag queens know now to transform themselves in ways that at first seem utterly impossible.

There are at least three ways in which my response to this was, “Yikes.” I waited until someone confirmed that as an appropriate response before getting into it here.

My own understanding is that transgender is an adjective, not a noun. In fact, even a cursory glance at Twitter mostly shows it being used as a noun by transphobes. This is worth a mention because Fishburn literally opens by referring to one Jack Drescher, MD, stating that in gender discussions “language is important”.

I’ve no idea if any transgender people use the term as a noun for or amongst themselves, but I’d think even if so it would be good form for us cisgender folk to stick with using it as an adjective.

Worse, if not worst, is that Fishburn somehow thought that “transgenders … are expert at artifice” was a thing to be thought, written down, and published. This idea that transgender people are tied to fakery—rather than literally to its opposite (authenticity)—is misguided and dangerous.

It ties, in fact, into the third grimace: Fishburn’s suggestion that transgender people are a “bridge” to transhumanism and (I guess?) the singularity. While any broadening of understanding and acceptance is a kind of transcendece of narrow ways of thinking and being, to reduce transgender people to a “bridge” is to turn them into an object in someone else’s story rather than what they are: the subject of their own.

That’s a remarkable betrayal not just of transgender people but of Fishburn’s own newly-trademarked idea of creating a “hive immunity to anxiety and depression” through story. The first rule surely must be that we allow other people to tell their own stories, not distort them for our own purposes.

You don’t treat anxiety and depression, or fight stigmatization, by telling stories out of turn, getting other people’s stories wrong, or, perhaps worse yet, turning other people’s stories—if not the people themselves—(in)to your own devices.

Fellow users of Micro.blog, help me. I make efforts on Twitter to find and follow people who are not, like me, white men. Scrolling follow lists on M.b is like swimming against a tide of other white men. Who are your best M.b follows to recommend who aren’t?

We know this is true: Women who exhibit anger in the workplace are seen as less professional and less competent. They are accorded lower status and lower pay. For men, it’s the opposite: Angry men are accorded higher status than sad men. And when it comes to anger, observers are more likely to assume a woman is angry because of her temperament or personality. Men are assumed to be angry because of some external factor — their anger is righteous and reactive, not a sign of personal instability or emotionality.

From Elizabeth Warren is an elitist. by Jill Filipovic