Sep 14 2013

“Irrational” feminists cling to patriarchy’s rotting corpse

In the event that you are ever called upon for proof that patriarchy is alive, all you have to do is consult the internet, where there is always a new post arguing that it is dead. Nobody would bother writing such posts if patriarchy had actually died, since that happy contingency could only obtain as the result of a lengthy revolt the deets and consequences of which would already be painfully familiar to everyone and their dog. If patriarchy were dead, “Patriarchy is Dead” would be old news, like “OMG! Twerking is a Thing Now!”

Yet down the pike they come, every so often, just as though their declarations were based in fact. No matter; such posts provide a happy excuse for spinster aunts and anarchists and cheese-makers and noted wits to air out their old-skool feminist ideologies. Today’s example: this article by The End of Men author Hanna Rosin. Rosin has declared, as the modern patriarchy-invested woman will feel compelled to do from time to time, the end of patriarchy. She illustrates her declaration with a photo of three white, blonde, female members of Congress.

Even so, you will note that you have not yet received an invitation to the bra-burning victory party on the Lido Deck of the good ship Vagina Dentata. I hate to say it, but that’s because not only is patriarchy not dead, it isn’t even sick. Rosin’s proposition is merely another in a long line of oblivious white lady arguments calling for the shrill, outdated feminists to take it down a notch so the OWLs can enjoy their fantasy “new era of female dominance” and take care of their emasculated husbands in peace.

These OWLy arguments are as alike as curds on a tuffet, and Rosin’s is no exception. Here’s how it goes:

A writer upon whom Fate has lavished a bit of education, as well as the financial wherewithal to insulate herself from some of the more dire ravages of the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, Rosin posits that contrary to feminist narratives of doom, women are doing just fine nowadays. Feministe blogger Jill Filopovic, she notes, is a New York lawyer; how can she cry foul when obviously patriarchy hasn’t held her back? Clearly the militant radfems have outlived their usefulness.

But uh-oh, the theory goes, those stubborn feminists won’t disperse. Turns out we’re neurotically nostalgic for the patriarchal victimization of yore, harboring an “irrational attachment to the concept of unfair.” So dedicated are we to detecting oppression in every crevice that we can’t comprehend our own deliverance, even as it stares us in the face, calls us irrational, and tells us to smile. Otherwise we would surely see that, what with The Vote and a “revolutionary” 19% of Congress now comprised of Vagina-Americans, women have won. Rather than getting our undies in a bundle, feminists should “treasure” it when cooler heads label us “strident,” since it is our only vestigial connection to the glory days when our beloved oppression was still in effect. Apparently, in this new post-patriarchal paradise, women can not only screw who we want, we’re also free to “quilt and can fruits” at will. Triumph is ours! Feminists, stand down!

It remains unsettled whether or not stridency-treasuring, quilting, and fruit-canning should be considered the ultimate goals of feminist revolution (so few of the world’s women live in Portlandia, after all). I’ll say this, though. The inspiration of these feminist-go-home arguments may be easily understood when one considers the source: the assimilated woman who doesn’t quite grasp what patriarchy is. To wit:

If, despite the fact that she has just called you “irrational,” you care to slog through Rosin’s article, you will come away with the sense that her comprehension of the concept patriarchy lacks nuance. She seems to see it as a sort of cabal of actual “patriarchs” (i.e. a boss or a dickhead boyfriend), rather than as an automated, self-replicating world order — in which participation is compulsory — that strictly enforces femininity compliance for the benefit of a male-dominated megapornotheocorporatocracy.

How has Rosin arrived at this unsophisticated worldview? In her article she avers that neither her husband nor her boss — “patriarchy,” presumably — have personally oppressed her overmuch, so apparently she doesn’t view women’s oppression as especially exigent. On the other hand, maybe she just doesn’t feel like fucking with it. Maybe she just wants to stay home with her kid, worship her man (“the God-ordained head of the household”), can her fruit, and not take a bunch of heat for it from the Internet feminists.

OK. Fine. The Hanna Rosins of the world have made their choice. They’re only gonna work 4 days a week, and their friends will all be getting jars of pickled pineapple for Christmas. It’s no skin off my nose. Be my guest! But this is what I would like to know:

Why they gotta get all up in our grill? What’s it to them if a few feminists wanna continue to agitate on behalf of the real, material liberation that the Hanna Rosins of the world have decided they’re willing to live without? When we point a gnarled claw at the discrimination, misogyny, and violence that still lingers, despite patriarchy’s purported “demise,” who exactly are we hurting?

Just get out of the way already, Hanna Rosins of the world. You may justify your antifeminism by fantasizing that the woman who picks up your trash when you leave at 5 secretly “yearns to bring back at least some aspects of patriarchy.” However, if you really think that a person who isn’t oppressed by patriarchal forces beyond your privileged bubble would be caught dead picking up your fucking garbage, you’re delusional, lady. There’s been no feminist victory. Patriarchy is not dead. Not globally, and not here in the US. For instance, by the time you finish reading this post, about 7942 entertainment rapes will have been broadcast on US television. That’s bad, but this is worse: at least two real, live American women will have been sexually assaulted.

Epilogue: Is “it” getting better, as Rosin postulates? “It” is clearly comfortable for privileged women like Rosin, whose circumstances permit the opportunity to view fruit-canning as a trendy hobby rather than as compulsory drudgery necessary to forestall winter starvation. But for proof that patriarchy isn’t dead, she need look no further than the comments on her own piece. Such as this one, authored by a patriarchy-invested mansplainer. This sterling dude defines feminism, as dudes are wont to do, as “based on a false premise: the equality of men and women.”

Dude. Get over it. Feminism posits no such dreaded “equality.” Godferbid. Feminism seeks to dismantle precisely that bogus equality crap to which the mansplainer alludes, and indeed any paradigm under which women are defined in terms of men. Feminism, it turns out, has nothing to do with men. Astonishingly, feminism is concerned with women. Specifically, the emancipation of women from an oppressive world order that hijacks our bodily sovereignty and controls our personal autonomy. And as long as there are jacknuts out there who believe otherwise, patriarchy will be alive and well and owning our uterus and making damn sure that 70% of the world’s poor are women.

Sep 13 2013

Anti-twerkite lacks clue re: rape culture

The degree to which news media luxuriate in the perpetuation of rape culture has long chapped the spinster hide, so it was with pleasure this morning that I read this ThinkProgress piece by Annie-Rose Strasser and Tara Culp-Ressler (to whom for the sake of brevity I will henceforth refer as ‘the authors’): “How Not To Publish Columns Justifying Rape: A Step-By-Step Guide For Editors.”

The authors note therein a few recent examples wherein national columnists “cater to rape culture and gloss over the gruesome reality of sexual assault.” Their prime culprit, “Miley Cyrus, Steubenville, and teen culture run amok” by WaPo’s Richard Cohen, masquerades as a wholesome, avuncular chappie’s views on the poor taste exhibited by today’s youth, but is in fact a boorish screed by an old white dude that essentially and nonsensically blames Miley Cyrus for the phenomenon of teen rape.

OK, come on. In your experience, how many old white dudes who bloviate on rape in mainstream media have the slightest idea what they’re talking about? Not Richard Cohen, that’s for sure. He seems to think it is of dire, material importance that the Steubenville attack did not involve “intercourse” (Well duh. No rape involves intercourse. Intercourse, unlike rape, is not an act of violence. What the astonishingly clueless Cohen appears so eager to convey is that the rapists used something other than their penises for penetration, which I guess makes them … what? Less guilty? Like, it wasn’t rape if they didn’t get off? Seriously?). He implies that this meaningless distinction, coupled with the notion that there were “only” two convictions, should soften the rabid reader’s view of the general severity of the case. And that’s just the beginning. Read the whole thing if you haven’t already; you’ll howl.

The authors go on to speculate — not entirely unfacetiously — that editors of such articles might not entirely grasp the antifeminist gist contained in this species of crapola. As a remedy they suggest four rules of thumb for determining whether an opinion piece (which, say, uses the Steubenville rape case to wag a gnarled claw at Miley-Cyrus-and-these-kids-today) is in fact part of the problem. Which — let’s face it — if it’s written by an old white dude so decent and proprietous and blissfully ignorant of popular culture that he can claim he had to Google “twerk”, it probably is.

Anyway, the seasoned patriarchy blamer will recognize all four items on Strasser and Culp-Ressler’s rape-apologist checklist, for they are ancient — as ancient as half-assed journalism itself.

Does [the piece] defend or sympathize with rapists?
Does it fault the victims, instead of those who committed a crime?
Does it downplay illegal actvity by using more casual terminology for rape?
Does it use rape as a hook in a ‘trend piece’ meant to draw sweeping conclusions about society’s moral depravity?

Like so many before it, Cohen’s column is 4 for 4! And for bonus jacknut points, he even asserts that it’s Miley Cyrus who is responsible for the modern woman’s debased status, rather than the incontinent, porn-sick audiences who fetishize femininity compliance and demand hypersexualized performances from women entertainers. And then, as his parting shot, he calls Cyrus “a twerk.” Oh snap!

And it’s not just the columnists. You cannot swing a cat video anywhere on the Internet without hitting an example of crappy rape reporting. That’s because a) rape is epidemic, b) police reporters tend to merely regurgitate the rape-apologist language often used in original police reports, and c) editors shy away from truly accurate representation because they deem it too graphic for the fine sensibilities of their gentle readers.

Here’s a compare-and-contrast:

The final paragraph of the Think Progress piece quotes Poynter on the subject of sugar-coating rape with watered-down, inaccurate, and blame-shifting terminology:

“[Journalists] say, for instance, that a young girl ‘performed an oral sex act,’ rather than, ‘He forced his genitals into her mouth.’”


Just this morning, immediately after reading the aforementioned Think Progress piece, I ran across a textbook case. It was an AP report documenting the September 10 arrest of a Dallas neighborhood watch volunteer who, sickeningly, turned out to be the Fair Park rapist:

“[A]ccording to Dallas police documents, he grabbed four women late at night and forced them to perform oral sex.” [cite]

Even though it employs the verb “forced” in connection with the rapist himself, the non-passive phraseology in Fair Park story still manages to turn the victims into guileful, complicit actors, contriving an inaccurate narrative that erases their experience by characterizing as a “performance” of “oral sex” what was actually a violent assault by a gun-wielding criminal.

In criminal jurisprudence, this victim-blaming standard applies only to rape. As Dahlia Lithwick suggested back in 2007, the victim of a mugging would never in a million years be described as merely giving his attacker a loan. Sex is a synonym for rape in our culture only because we maintain an official sex class — women — to provide receptacles for male hatred to penetrate.

In conclusion: Richard Cohen, if twerking bums you out, don’t blame the twerkers. Blame the patriarchy. If DudeNation didn’t clamor for it, buy it, reward it, celebrate it, and write about it incessantly, twerking would cease to exist overnight.

Sep 11 2013

Mass media fails to uplift spinster aunt

“What the hell, Twisty?” you may well ask. “Whyfore no bloggo lo these past 57.8 months or whatever?” Well, the rumors are true. My lobe got totally blown. Kablooey. Lobaceous matter scattered over several square miles. Obstreperal particles were found as far away as the Texas lege, where, thanks to the Supremes, state Republicans bask in the icy purgatorial glow of their discriminatory redistricted voter maps. Fortunately, I, unlike voting rights in Texas, got better.

Moving on.

What a summer. So much vadge-clenching crap has come down the wire. So many degenerate, entitled, sociopathic, narcissist, megalomisogynist assholes in the news. The spinster mettle has been sorely tested. The eel-like Anthony Wiener*, Mayor McHandsypants of San Diego, the repellent Hugo Schwyzer, murderer George Zimmerman, every dude who works in tech, etc.

And oh my god, what about that dicksmoke victim-blaming judge in that wrenching Montana teen rape case? I allude, of course, to Judge G.Todd Baugh, who reduced the convicted rapist’s sentence to thirty days even though he’d flunked out of his court-mandated sex-offender rehab course. Why? Why why why? Apparently Baugh in his wisdom decided that, before she killed herself out of despair, “the 14-year-old girl was acting ‘older than her chronological age’ and [had been] ‘as much in control of the situation’ as the 49-year-old teacher who raped her.”

O my aching lobe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No class of human being is more disenfranchised and/or reviled than teenage girls, with the exception of teenage girls who are known to have been penetrated by adult dudes; they are the most disenfranchised people in the entire galaxy.

Well, this morning I thought I might look to cable news for some uplifting info on the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the impending US-related doom in Syria, or at least enjoy some footage of that giant floating bong in the Mediterranean. Dee-nied. Instead of any actual news, MSNBC decided to re-run in its entirety its 12-year-old minute-by-minute coverage of the fucking 9/11 attacks, with smoke-gushing images and overwrought narration complete.

OK, look. Not as bad as this, but still. On the somber occasion of the anniversary of 9/11 one might wish to reflect, pay homage, observe a moment of silence, light a candle, hug a firefighter or what have you, but if you’re anything like me you need to actually re-live that mass murder exactly never, so you turned that shit off, made an espresso that sadly turned out a little too thin, and consulted your poor, neglected Twitter feed. Despair ensued.

Twitter. I flippin’ hate Twitter. Not only does it put the kibosh on my natural inborn longwindedness, the feminists and anarchists and cheese-makers and noted wits I follow uniformly bum me out. For instance, today I found out that a cabal of mean parade-rainers are, predictably, out to erase Diana Nyad’s heartwarming and astonishing Cuba-to-Florida swim record by accusing her of cheating. Now, like every woman in history who ever accomplished anything, Nyad is required to face her detractors and explain herself.


Oh, and from the feminist-dudes-always-turn-out-to-be-misogyinst-pricks department, check this out: an Australian documentarist has discovered that the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, they of the questionably feminist “our breasts are our weapons” fame, is run by — that’s right — a megalomisogynist dude.

These girls are weak,” he says in the film. “They don’t have the strength of character. They don’t even have the desire to be strong. Instead, they show submissiveness, spinelessness, lack of punctuality, and many other factors which prevent them from becoming political activists. These are qualities which it was essential to teach them.”

Here is the amount of surprise we registered here at Spinster HQ upon learning that enpornulated Ukrainian women who take to the streets in hootchie lingerie with the rape culture motto “FUCK” scrawled across their chests are actually in thrall to an abusive Svengali who admits on film that he masterminded the Femen “movement” in order to get laid:


I wish you could knock me over with a feather, because I need to lie down.

* I did not originate “eel-like” as the most apt descriptor ever for Anthony Wiener. I wish to heck I could remember where I read it, because I would like to buy that genius epithet-coiner a taco.

Femen link via @LettyNijhuis

May 17 2013

Spinster aunt says something about rape on TV

A propos of the other day’s post on “The Bletchley Circle,” here’s a question what often comes up. Blamer Michelle writes:

Are portrayals of rape on TV and in movies unavoidably misogynistic? I watched the Stieg Larsson movie awhile back – the Dragon Tattoo one — and was infuriated by the portrayals of sexual violence… then had a heated debate with my partner about whether or not they were gratuitous. I HATE portrayals of rape in fiction – in print or on screen – that are even mildly explicit, because I think they reek of salacious, prurient voyeurism. But rape happens in life. Should it be censored in fiction? This issue hits my fury nerve, but I’d like to be able to make some reasoned arguments.

It’s all a matter of tone, isn’t it?

Rape scenes rarely do anything but provide an opportunity for plot-driven pornography. These scenes may be used to illustrate the evil of the antagonist, but the tone never suggests jack about the victim beyond “she’s a pitiful dominated half naked sexy lady; look!” If a rape scene is necessary to drive the plot — which, by the way, it isn’t — it certainly isn’t necessary to film it pornulationally. The Greeks always committed their dramatic murders off stage.

Women are the sex class, right? The ridiculous proliferation and popularity of TV rape scenes — there’s a sexual assault about every 10 seconds on television — is proof enough of that, as if you needed it. When TV rapes women, if there is ever any underlying high moral purpose serving Truth and Beauty, I have never seen it. Popular writers and directors almost universally choose to throw the mighty weight of their office behind the goddam GAGFUW. All media serve and perpetuate our misogynist world order.

May 13 2013

Just when you thought you wouldn’t have to slog through a feminist analysis of “The Bletchley Circle”

You’ve heard that spinster aunts, their kiesters permanently affixed to their lime green recliners, are constantly monitoring the airwaves for examples of patriarchy-replication in male supremacist cultural narratives. Recently here at Spinster HQ we cast our jaundiced eye upon PBS mystery/period drama “The Bletchley Circle”. Four women, veterans of the eponymous WW II British code-breaking operation, join forces as civilians in 1952 to solve a bunch of murders.

Because she apparently isn't pitiful enough, the battered wife character is also attacked by a random stranger on a train.

Because she apparently isn’t pitiful enough, the battered wife character is also attacked by a random stranger on a train.

I believe it is customary to announce a spoiler alert at this juncture, but let’s face it. It’s a crime show, so you know precisely what happens. A creepy dude murders some hot babes and is eventually foiled in an abandoned warehouse by a slightly extraordinary sleuth who struggles with personal demons.

Even though “The Bletchley Circle” has been called “feminist” (nowadays the label is applied automatically whenever there is a female lead, irrespective of any actual evidence of feminist themes), it will come as no surprise to you that straight away I was able to tick off several boxes on both the Misogyny in Media Checklist and the Schlocky Old Plot Device Checklist. Note that there is some overlap between these checklists. Misogynical motifs — usually affirmations of the venerable Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women — form the basis of so much of the literary and theatrical canon, they may also be considered schlock.

On to the checklists!

• Sleuth with superpower? Check. (Schlock)

• Scene wherein dude sexually assaults lone, vulnerable woman? Check. (Schlockogyny)

• Scene wherein same woman gets beat up by husband? Check. (More schlockogyny, in case you missed it the first time)

• Serial killer? Check. (Schlock)

• Serial killer is a diabolically clever madman? Check. (Mental illness disinformation, perpetuation of patriarchal myth that only raving outliers are capable of violence against women, and for the luvagod, lunatic serial killer is the most enschlockened character in modern entertainment)

• Serial killer predates upon hot young women by exploiting one or another of their stereotypically weak feminine failings? Check. (Porno-schlockogyny)

• Serial killer rapes the corpses? Check. (Really? Again?)

• Money shot of bound-and-gagged victim struggling in dungeon? Check. (BDSchlockM)

• Money shot of hot, dead victim looking somewhat sexy? Check. (Ibid)

• Though her motivation for doing so is howlingly unbelievable such that the viewer is compelled to yell at the screen “Shirley you aren’t going to confront the killer alone in that creepy remote location à la Silence of the Lambs!”, the plot in fact climaxes with heroine confronting killer alone in creepy remote location à la Silence of the Lambs? Check. (Aaaauuugghhh)

Is The Bletchley Circle “feminist”? Hayell no.

Well, OK, the leads are four “strong women” characters, where “strong” means “plucky.” Their intellective efforts eventually win the day despite open dudely hostility at every turn, so, grrl-power. Bechdelianly-speaking, they do have conversations with each other. However, except for a pretty riveting opening flashback portraying a code-breaking triumph at Bletchley Park, these conversations are largely about men, either their dickhead husbands or dismissive government authority figures or the dudely killer. Furthermore, their relationships with men are character-defining factors. The stifled hausfrau*, the battered wife, and the sexually harassed waitress depend for character development on dysfuntional dude-relationships (the fourth is another tired old stock character, the spinster librarian). Thus is the feminist thrust of “The Bletchley Circle” thrown into question. The realistic depiction of women’s crapulent status in post-war England, however historically accurate, is so lovingly, painstakingly bleak it practically amounts to torture porn.

The final nail in the coffin:

• Entire series — though purportedly about women’s experience — written by dude? Check. (Puke)

The other final nail in the coffin?

• In the post-series “Making of Bletchley Circle,” (one of those boring filler/filmumentaries that seem to append every episode of every PBS drama these days), the director makes a big fucken deal out of the fact that although he had to work with an unheard-of surfeit of females on this project, there was nevertheless an astonishing lack of catfighting on set? Fucking check. (Aaaand double-puke)


*In the empowerful-women-take-back-the-degrading-epithet department, check out this unexpected definition of hausfrau at Urban Dictionary.

May 08 2013

Shirley he can’t be serious

President Obama is shocked/shocked that more and more members of the military appear to be confused about precisely which sorts of violent, antisocial behaviors are patriotic, and which are criminal. Here he responds to the grim 411 that sexual assaults in the military are up over 30% since 2010:

“I want [the victims of sexual assault] to hear directly from their commander in chief that I’ve got their backs. I will support them. And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability. If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted. […] I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. It’s not acceptable.” [USA Today]

Obama can hardly be astonished that a couple of half-assed sensitivity training courses have failed to eradicate the military epidemic of moral turpitude; “this stuff” is necessarily endemic to the armed forces. That’s because a high moral purpose is absolutely antithetical to the systematic perpetration of deadly force, which perpetration is, after all, the whole raison d’être of the whole flippin military. To wit:

As I suggested in yesterday’s post, the United States appears to have created a warrior class with a culture distinct from that of the general fun-lovin’, happy-go-lucky populace. Despite lofty romantic narratives alluding to honor and quiet heroism and national pride, military culture is ultimately grounded by mores that place a higher value on group cohesion through dominance than on compassion, justice, or truth. These mores are necessary both to foster the required fierce sense of tribal unity, and to permit the execution of the required acts of intimidation and aggression — acts that would be considered psychotic under any other circumstances. Mounting body counts on all sides obfuscate the very concept of “greater good.”

The thuggy, murdery, cannon-foddery nature of the wars becomes more difficult to ignore, while simultaneously the sexual assault rate climbs: coincidence? I think not. It’s nice that the president “has [the victims’] backs,” but if he thinks that it’s even possible to extirpate violent behavior from a tight-knit culture based on violence, that dude seriously needs to answer the clue phone. As these relentless wars drag ever onward, it is to be expected only that fewer and fewer members of the military will be able to survive such extreme cognitive dissonance with their moral compasses intact. Warfare debases all humanity.

May 07 2013

Spinster aunt blows dust off computer, reads depressing Google news

It was a narrowed, bloodshot eye that I cast upon this morning’s Google News top headline: “US air force sexual assault prevention unit chief charged with sexual battery.”

Prepare yourself to not be shocked in the least. The sexual assault prevention unit chief was a dude, and the person he neglected to prevent himself from sexually assaulting was a woman. Quelle surprise.

The news reports all endeavor to help us understand the salient facts of the case: Air Force guy didn’t just grope a woman, he drunkenly groped a woman. Ohhh, well it makes sense, then. Deficiency of sobriety is a popular theme in sexual assault narratives. As everyone knows, a drunken dude can’t help it, and a drunken woman deserves it.

Although, you know, it has occurred to me that maybe dudes whose inebriation causes them to refrain from not raping women should just lay off the sauce already. And get themselves castrated. For the common good.

Stupid Air Force guy looks so bummed in the photo, doesn’t he? Well, he should lighten up! Nobody, unfortunately, is gonna castrate him. Even better for him, guilty verdicts in cases like his are all but chimerical figments. Should so fantastic a verdict happen — against all odds — to achieve escape velocity from the crumulent black hole of misogyny that is the typical jury trial in a 21st century American sexual assault case, chances are that a sympathetic higher-up will simply overturn it. That’s what this 3-star general-cum-astronaut did with the aggravated sexual assault conviction of one of her dudely underlings. And she’s not alone.

Although, you know, it has occurred to me that maybe governments that train a hierarchical warrior class to go around oppressing and killing on a global scale should not be surprised when its members routinely exhibit hubris, entitlement, violence, criminality, and antisocial moral lapses.

Mar 25 2013

Shirley there’s nothing more to say on the subject of Radfems vs Trans Women?

I love the smell of a transgender politics dust-up in the morning. Mmmm.

I strongly urge those readers for whom transgenderism is problematic to examine the roots of their bigotry, and to consider adopting a more reasoned, tolerant and inclusive platform.

For those who are interested in the Savage Death Island argument supporting the right of all persons to exist on their own terms, today I’m republishing the relevant parts of a post I wrote back in 2011, omitting the superfluous preamble (for connoisseurs of superfluous preambles, the unabridged version can be found here). I’m plagiarizing myself for two reasons. One, the old essay is better than the one I wrote yesterday. Two, because the first essay racked up nearly 800 comments, it seemed judicious to start afresh than merely to link to the crowded 2-year-old page.

* * * * * * * * * *

There are three aspects of this trans “debate” that particularly chap the spinster hide. One is that it is even considered a debate. Is there anything more demeaning than a bunch of people with higher status than you sitting around debating the degree to which they find you human? I don’t think so.

The second hide-chap is the main anti-trans “argument.” It goes:

Unless you were born a woman, how can you really know what women’s oppression means? You benefited from male privilege once; how can we trust you? Your male junk threatens us. You mock us with your affected femininity. You’re not authentic.

This argument is phobic and dumb. It proceeds from, among things like fear and internalized misogyny, the premise that there exists a standard or authentic “woman’s experience” of oppression that derives entirely from childhood indoctrination and imbues the experiencer with some kinda moral authority. The premise is false. An experience of womanhood is not the experience of womanhood. Take, for example, the issue of privilege:

Some women have a little privilege. Some women have a shit-ton of privilege. Some women have a shit-ton of privilege and then lose it. Some women have zippo privilege and then get some later. Some women only ever have zippo, period. Some women are atheists, have short brown hair, drive red Fords, have scars where their sex organs used to be, can’t get health insurance, eat only vegetables and shave their mustaches.

Thus we see that there are infinite manifestations of womanity, both in terms of privilege and otherwise, each topped with its own unique little dollop of oppression. Of the gazillion factors that comprise female awareness, the condition of having been born female is but e pluribus unum.

Not only is there no “standard” women’s experience of oppression, but a primary experience of womanhood is in fact inessential to the understanding of oppression. It is not necessary, in order for the oppressed to unite behind the common cause of liberation, that every oppressed person should share the background experiences of every other oppressed person. It is not only not necessary; it is not possible. The imposition of such jingoistic strictures precludes all possibility of revolution.

Oppression is oppression. Race, ethnicity, religion, pigmentation, sex, gender, health, education, class, caste, age, weight, ableness, mental health, physical health, marital status, employment status, diet, IQ, internet access — any combination of these or a thousand other arbitrary markers may be used by the powerful to justify oppression, but the net result is always the same: discrimination, disenfranchisement, degradation, dehumanization. It’s the Four Ds! The Four Ds make all oppressed persons identical enough.

My third point strikes a somewhat different and theoretical note. It has long been the contention of all expert spinster aunts that the notion of gender is itself a fiction promoted by the usual hegemonic patriarchal forces as an instrument of oppression. A person can only be “trans” if there are rigidly enforced gender roles from which and to which one might transition. Obviously, post-revolutionary society will not be burdened by tiresome gender constructs at all; nobody will have to become anything because everyone will just be whatever they are. Meanwhile, we gotta stop slapping the Four Ds on anyone who fails to conform to the stupid misogynist gender binary.

I would love to delve into this at greater length, but the aforementioned time constraints compel me to put a sock in it. Fortunately, yesterday blamers Nails and AlienNumber were kind enough to link to Daisy Deadhead’s excellent essay on Savage Death Island’s executive director Andrea Dworkin and her remarks on transgender politics. The remarks, excerpted by Daisy from Woman Hating (1974), are sensible and kind and radical and a breath of fresh 70?s air. And they pretty precisely express the Savage Death Island doxa. Essentially, Dworkin’s saying that everyone has a right to exist on her/his own terms. Duh, right?

Transsexuality* is currently considered a gender disorder, that is, a person learns a gender role which contradicts his/her visible sex. It is a “disease” with a cure: a sex-change operation will change the person’s visible sex and make it consonant with the person’s felt identity.

Since we know very little about sex identity, and since psychiatrists are committed to the propagation of the cultural structure as it is, it would be premature and not very intelligent to accept the psychiatric judgement that transsexuality is caused by a faulty socialization. More probably, transsexuality is caused by a faulty society. Transsexuality can be defined as one particular formation of our general multisexuality which is unable to achieve its natural development because of extremely adverse social conditions.

There is no doubt that in the culture of male-female discreteness, transsexuality is a disaster for the individual transsexual. Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual. There are 3 crucial points here.

One, every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. This is an emergency measure for an emergency condition.

Two, by changing our premises about men and women, role-playing and polarity, the social situation of transsexuals will be transformed, and transsexuals will be integrated into community, no longer persecuted and despised.

Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.

I recommend reading Daisy’s essay for a bit more context. Nails has a new post on the topic too.

* In 1974, “transsexual” was the term for what we now call “transgender.”

Mar 22 2013

A girl can’t have a dick.

Gender is the most important fucking concept in the world. It’s the ur-fucking-concept.

Smith College won’t admit trans woman Calliope Wong, no way no how, because her birth certificate categorizes her as a dude. Apparently the only way Wong can change the check-box from “dude” to “dudess,” in the eyes of Smith, is to undergo sex reassignment surgery, which she hasn’t done. Says Wong:

“Transwomen are most likely not ready for surgery at 17 or 18, the typical age of a college applicant. It’s a monumental personal decision that usually arises from years of introspection and deliberation.”

So Wong can’t just declare herself to be whatever it is she is. Woman, they say, is denoted completely arbitrarily by lacking a dick. Not by any of the other factors that might just as easily be employed to differentiate members of the sex class from members of the regular class. Factors such as hormones or chromosomes or giggly head-tilts or — heaven forfend! — personal preference. The genitalia are the only thing anyone gives a fig about.

The carpet must match the drapes. One must be consistent, down below, with what one advertises up top. A girl can’t have a dick. The entire fabric of the universe, in fact, depends entirely on girls entirely not having dicks. No dicks, not of any kind.

That’s right; as is usual in all matters pertaining to everything, nothing matters but pure, unadulterated pussy. So Wong needs a doctor’s note stating that she’s had vaginoplasty. She must become legally penetrable. She has to get a fuckhole installed. That’s because the Global Accords define “woman” as “that which can be fucked.”

Someday, when future humans are lounging around the pool, strumming lutes and basking in the sunny uncomplicatedness of gender-neutrality, they’ll look back on this and laugh.

Tangentially: I get that lots of people are sure as shit, such that they actually want or need sex reassignment surgery. But is that really true of everybody? Setting aside for the moment my firm conviction that gender can and should be made irrelevant by feminist revolt, I have always thought it was super discriminatory that, in the cut-throat world of sex and identity, one is generally expected to buy the whole farm in a one-time-only sort of a deal. What if I wanted to be a dude, but maybe not forever, and without having to lop off any of my shit or going through monumental introspections and deliberations? As in, I’d merely announce “Yo, I’m a dude! Lead me to the drugs and bitches and higher paychecks!”

Forget it! Gender is not to be trifled with. It is the most deadly serious social construct ever invented. The gender-binary police state doesn’t accept, no way no how, that gender can be fluid. Before granting a sexception, they require that a person literally be in emotional crisis, and demonstrate an irrevocable commitment to the Establishment by subjecting herself to the medical industry for barbaric surgical procedures. And when I say barbaric I’m not jokin’ around. Do you realize that vaginoplasty essentially takes a peen and turns it inside-out? I mean, I’m hardly one to cry out “oh dear what about the peen?!” at every turn, but Jesus in a jetpack, that’s gotta smart.

So don’t give me any of that womyn-born-womyn crap. Wanna be a girl? Be a girl. A person shouldn’t have to implode her body parts just to go to fucking Smith. I seriously doubt that by letting Calliope Wong in, the joint’ll soon be overrun with entitled dudebros in drag.

NOTE TO COMMENTERS: The entitlement of trans women to basic courtesy and compassion is not up for debate. If you’re an anti-transite, I will ban you.

Mar 21 2013

Spinster aunt reads Kate Harding

Fat acceptance hasn’t been discussed much here at IBTP, probably because, until recently, I pretty much thought I got it. Like: fat people are human beings? Sure. Of course. Now let’s talk about the misogyny of pencil skirts, tiny handbags, and high heels.

So a few weeks ago I was informed by medical doctors that, although I am skinny, I am obese, ostensibly because I have been eating junk and drinking too much for the past year.* Here’s the post about that.

When I used the word “obese” in that post I was gently informed by fat blamers that the term is offensive. “Obese” is used by fat-hatas as a synonym for “fat,” “fat” is not the equivalent of “unhealthy,” and “obese” medicalizes a perfectly natural variant of normal. I was sent to Kate Harding’s blog.

Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.

Harding explains that being fat is not the equivalent of (my words, not hers) being a barnacle on a La-Z-Boy. She has to point out this distinction because the bogus equivalence she describes is overwhelmingly the narrative in modern discourse, and is the root of anti-fat bigotry (see Michelle Obama’s cringe-inducing Skinny2K-Compliance campaign “Let’s Move!”). Tangentially, she also avers that even if a fat person is sick, she’s obviously still entitled to the same respect one would accord a human being. Because she’s a human being.

So, according to Kate, I’m not obese; I merely eat crap and don’t exercise. A dessicated old aunt teetering on the brink of a metabolic cliff. A slothful, self-indulgent sicko.** That I also happen to be thin proves that “fat” illness can happen to anybody, not just fat people.

Fair enough. No argument here.

Having read Harding’s blog further, I have concluded that, although “obese” seems to be the term favored by the medical establishment to describe the state of my fatty guts, my identifying as obese on this blog appears to be somewhat analogous to a dude commenter calling himself a feminist, i.e., it’s insulting.

Anyway, this whole episode has pointed the glaring spotlight of cold hard truth on, not merely my fondness for Funyuns, but also on a gaping sort of hole in my oppression-culture literacy. Namely, that I don’t know jack about the fat acceptance movement. Which is pretty disgraceful, considering that it is such a major issue within the purview of patriarchy blaming.

To be continued.

* Although here is a 2007 article from Junkfood Science, provided by blamer Blue, suggesting that the results of a huge, 8-year health-food clinical trial (the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial) totally debunked the notion that diet has anything whatsoever to do with health.

After more than eight years, there were no difference in the incidences of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks or strokes among those who ate “healthy” and those who ate whatever they pleased.

The thesis of this essay seems so out-there that I am almost tempted to believe it.

** Actually, I would hesitate to classify my outdoorsy life of shoveling manure, chasing horses around, and hoisting hay bales as “sedentary,” so I can only conclude that either my diet of potato chips, Fresca, and Prosecco was even crappier than I thought, or something more sinister is afoot. Nice.

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