Constantly in the process of becoming

Feb 25th, 2020 5:23 pm | By

From the Australian Feminist Law Journal, an abstract:

Sexually Dimorphic Bodies: A Production of Birth Certificates

Birth certificates produce bodies? Who knew?!

Registering a newborn’s gender/sex on the birth certificate is usually seen as a mere formality that reflects a natural state of affairs. This article, however, shows that the registration of gender/sex does something else than record naturally given sex differences in bodies; it actually produces and shapes bodies to develop in a way conformant with understandings of sexual dimorphism.

Hmm. I wonder what Lena Holzer means by “shows.” I say that because I doubt that a journal article can “show” something nonsensical.

Sexed bodies are therefore not pre-discursive and static objects, but they are constantly in the process of becoming, influenced by socio-legal procedures, including gender/sex registration.

Well obviously living bodies are not static, because a static body is dead. And of course bodies are in some sense always in the process of becoming, because they’re constantly changing in various ways.

The jargon makes this abstract look more like literary “theory” than law. You know you’re being conned (or if you don’t you should) when instead of “living bodies change constantly” you get “bodies are not pre-discursive and static objects.” It’s not difficult to think of obvious points one can make to demonstrate that being classified female or male leads to many effects that shape females and males, including their bodies…but that doesn’t sound clever enough for a journal.

By analysing the effects of registering the legal gender/sex on birth certificates and the change of gender markers thereof in various jurisdictions, in particular Australian states and territories, the article aims to show how bodies of intersex as well as endosex cis and trans persons are made into what they are expected to be: sexually dimorphic.

Oh yes? Then how does it work with all the other sexually dimorphic species? They don’t have birth certificates, so how do they manage to be sexually dimorphic anyway? How does the bull moose know it’s time to fight all the other bull mooses and impregnate as many cows as possible? Does someone pass him a note saying “You are a bull”?

It concludes that legally assigning a gender/sex has intrinsically violent effects on bodies, something that could be avoided by eliminating the public registration of gender/sex.

Where did “intrinsically violent” come from?

Whatever. I can tell you this much: if you visit Yosemite or Yellowstone in autumn don’t try to get friendly with the bulls. Rutting season is no joke, birth certificate or no birth certificate.

Why it matters

Feb 25th, 2020 3:48 pm | By

Someone who probably knows what he’s talking about explains why Trump’s tweet about the virus was so terrible.

Because it’s not “very much under control,” right?

But which is more important, telling the truth so that we can try to prepare, or making Trump look as if he’s doing his job? The question answers itself.

What’s more important – 300 million people, or Trump? Trump, of course, every time. His reputation matters far more than our survival.

Making America great again.

Quick, hide the cauliflower

Feb 25th, 2020 3:29 pm | By

Some children have to be tricked into eating vegetables.

Donald Trump, a 73-year-old man who has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal at his fingertips, must be tricked into eating vegetables. The White House staff has also sought to cut down the president’s ice cream consumption by making it “less accessible.”

They put it in the library.

The newsflash is from an interview with the former White House doctor in the NY Times.

In public, [Ronny] Jackson lauded Trump’s health as “incredible.” At one point, he even told reporters that Trump could live to 200 years old.

Behind the scenes, however, Jackson said he wanted Trump to lose 10-15 pounds. He mapped out a workout routine involving an exercise bike and elliptical machine, while also seeking to alter Trump’s nutrition. Ultimately, “the exercise stuff never took off as much as I wanted it to,” Jackson told The Times. “But we were working on his diet. We were making the ice cream less accessible, we were putting cauliflower into the mashed potatoes.”

And that little boy is only 73 years old.


Feb 25th, 2020 11:01 am | By

The story is by Pink News “gender and identity” reporter Vic Parsons, who is or pretends to be incredulous that any women or girls ever have issues to do with excess bleeding.

Conservative peer Lord Lucas has spoken out about gender-neutral toilets, which he bizarrely thinks should be scrapped because women don’t want to “wash their bloody underwear” in front of men.

Vic Parsons doesn’t explain what’s bizarre about that.

The reality is that women don’t want to wash bloody underpants in front of anyone except possibly immediate family. Certainly having to wash blood out of one’s underpants in any public restroom/toilet would be a depressing and embarrassing need, but it would for sure be much worse in a “gender neutral” restroom toilet. Personally I don’t think women do that much – I think it’s more usual to wrap everything in layers of paper towel and wait until you get home to do the washing part. But I think if they do need to they should have a man-free restroom/toilet to do it in. Vic Parsons however is full of disdain.

During a House of Lords debate on Monday, Lucas claimed that gender-neutral bathrooms should be scrapped because women are “unsafe and uncomfortable” sharing space with men when they’re on their period.

“I do not think that any woman really wants to wash her bloody underwear when she has flooded during a period in front of men,” said Lucas, who, despite what this statement would have you believe, has been married to three women and has two daughters.

Maybe one or more of them had or have exceptionally heavy periods. That can happen, you know.

Image result for carrie shower scene

Bloody sluts

Feb 25th, 2020 10:41 am | By

Pink News arrives at peak misogyny.

Normal by Saturday

Feb 25th, 2020 10:36 am | By

The BBC is live-updating news on the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US’s top public health agency, has warned Americans to brace themselves for a spread of coronavirus within the country.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen,” Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said.

And it will be bad.

In Iran however they’re saying don’t worry, it’s all good.

Amid fears around Iran’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, President Hassan Rouhani has appealed for calm, saying he expects the situation to be “normal” by this Saturday.

He was addressing the first meeting of the National HQ for Combating Corona, which was broadcast live by Iran’s rolling news channel IRINN.

“From Saturday onwards, all processes would be as per normal in the country,” he said. “If there is any special case, which the national HQ itself declares, then it would do so.”

So that’s where Trump is getting his information.

President Rouhani then urged people to go about their business and work as usual, and warned against listening to “conspiracies and fear-mongering of our enemies”, which he said were being spread in an attempt to bring Iran to a standstill.


Wait maybe Trump isn’t getting his cues from Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he’s “deeply concerned” that Iran’s government may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in the country.

“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” he told reporters today.

“All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and co-operate with international aid organisations.”

Does that apply to Trump? Or no?

Very much under control though

Feb 25th, 2020 10:15 am | By

The CDC says look out, it will be bad. Trump says he’s got everything totally under control.

The CDC says:

New outbreaks in Asia, Europe and the Middle East are renewing fears of a coming global pandemic, even as the spread in China appears to be slowing.

RIGHT NOW “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” a C.D.C. official said.


He thinks his words are magic.

Who is most appropriate?

Feb 25th, 2020 9:03 am | By

Now Trump is pretending to think the sane Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves.

President Trump criticized remarks by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “inappropriate” and said the Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from cases involving the president.

“I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump related,” Trump said Tuesday in a wide-ranging news conference in New Delhi.

It seems very rude to prattle about something so parochial when he’s in India. But…theory of mind again. He’s not capable of stopping to think that people in New Delhi have other concerns.

He then had the gall to say Sotomayor said something “highly inappropriate.” Dude.

The remarks are an apparent reference to a recent Sotomayor dissent in which she wrote that the administration had made a habit of turning to the Supreme Court after losses in lower courts.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” Sotomayor wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.” She added that the Supreme Court was “partly to blame” because it “has been all too quick to grant the government’s” requests.

In other words her point is that Trump’s administration is doing something “highly inappropriate” and in violation of precedent, so naturally his response is “No YOU are.”

Call people names and win big cash prizes

Feb 24th, 2020 3:47 pm | By

Trump is giving advice on how to win the primaries.

“Mini Mike—how’d he do in the debate the other day?” President Donald Trump asked, at a rally in Las Vegas on Friday. He was talking about Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, for whom he had some advice. But first he wanted to remind the crowd of Bloomberg’s height. “Here’s a box, Mike!” Trump said. (Bloomberg did not, in fact, stand on a box for the Democratic debate in Nevada.) The crowd cheered on his derision. “He was a beauty—what happened?” Trump clutched his throat and lolled his tongue in a somewhat graphic mime of choking. Then he arrived at what he saw as Bloomberg’s central problem: “Pocahontas screaming at him.” He meant Senator Elizabeth Warren, and he knew just how Bloomberg should respond to her.

By calling her “Pocahontas,” of course.

“Why didn’t he bring that up when she was screaming at him?” Bloomberg didn’t call Warren “Pocahontas”; that was why “she won that debate.” The lapse was incomprehensible to Trump, who segued into a stream of reminiscences about how he had won his primary debates during the 2016 campaign. “That’s what they all said! I won,” he boasted.

He won by being more vulgar and belligerent and trashy than anyone else. So everyone else should out-trashy him? I guess.

No, wait a second – he won the Republican primaries. He’s telling Bloomberg what to do to Be Like Him but Bloomberg is running as a Democrat. I don’t think Democrats as a group are as wedded to trashy racist sexist insults as an election technique as the Republicans are. In fact many Republicans have switched to being Democrats because they can’t stand the trash-talk.

At a rally in Colorado, a day before his event in Nevada, he brandished printouts of old press reports touting his debating prowess. “I became President because of the debates, because unlike Mini Mike I could answer questions,” Trump said—a line that might seem delusional if one thinks that, in order to “answer questions,” a person actually needs to give answers, rather than just attack the questioner. And yet Trump has something of a point; even if he didn’t “win” all the Republican debates, he did, on the whole, dominate them, at least in terms of shaping the tone. And that domination prefigured his takeover of the G.O.P. and the Party’s abasement of itself before him. Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Low-Energy Jeb. The President seems amazed that the Democrats aren’t all calling one another names. That’s what he would do.

Lots of Republicans like it, lots of Democrats not so much.

A vocal activist

Feb 24th, 2020 11:58 am | By

Meanwhile in another (yet related) part of the forest, Mhairi Black MP is defending her decision to take a drag queen to one of those children’s story time gigs we hear so much about. The thing is, the drag queen is on Twitter, with photos, and…well I’ll let a reporter tell the story:

Renfrewshire MP Mhairi Black has defended a decision to invite a drag queen into a primary school to read to pupils, despite an outcry from parents over sexually-explicit social media posts.

Drag queen FlowJob was invited into Glencoats Primary, in Paisley, last week to speak to pupils about the notorious Section 28 Act, which was later repealed.

Flowjob. Erm…is that really a necessary part of the primary school curriculum?

The event was attended by Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Ms Black, who is a vocal activist for LGBT rights.

After parents voiced concern that sexually-explicit images were on FlowJob’s social media profile, Renfrewshire Council has said it would never have invited the performer had it been aware of the posts.


But Ms Black slated critics and accused them of homophobia.

She did.

As many many people are pointing out in replies, this isn’t a drag queen as in panto dame, this is a sexualized drag queen. Andy Lewis made a compelling point.

It’s like bringing a pole dancer to a primary school to “teach children to overcome stereotypes” or some such shit – the pole dancer part is a stereotype. So is “Flowjob.”

The ultimate feminist

Feb 24th, 2020 11:12 am | By

Ed Pilkington on Weinstein’s aggressive lawyer from earlier this month:

Last week, Rotunno reduced one of the two main accusers in the trial, who alleges she was raped by Weinstein in a New York hotel in 2013, to uncontrollable sobbing during a total of nine hours of relentless grilling over two days. On the first of those days, the presiding judge had to halt proceedings after the witness suffered a panic attack.

Rotunno had been firing questions at her like bullets, ending each query with a shotgun “Correct?” “You were manipulating Mr Weinstein so you’d get invited to fancy parties, correct?” “You wanted to benefit from the power, correct?” “You wanted to use his power, correct?”

The lawyer self-identifies as the “ultimate feminist”, but again you wouldn’t know that from her courtroom posture. She has deployed all the old shibboleths that have been used over decades to discredit sex crimes accusers.

The witness was after the money, she was a serial liar, she may not have wanted sex with Weinstein but she did it anyway to get on in the film business – all those arguments and insinuations have been used by Rotunno and her henchmen.

Most extraordinarily, she has turned the very core of #MeToo – the notion that powerful men wield and abuse their power to force sex on women – on its head, suggesting to the jury that it was the six accusers who were the ones doing the manipulating and that the victim here was Weinstein.

And somehow the New York police and prosecutors were unable to ferret that out, and for some strange reason they believed the victims instead.

He took it like a man

Feb 24th, 2020 10:50 am | By

More on Harvey Weinstein from the Guardian Live:

His lawyer decided it was a good time to troll everyone:

Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead lawyer, has also been talking to reporters outside court, promising an appeal and saying of her client, in a remark which may prove controversial: “He took it like a man.”

Oh yes? Meaning what? He jumped on the prosecutors and raped them? He used his superior strength to overpower women and then terrorized them into staying silent? He tried to threaten reporters and publishers into staying silent?

Saying “the fight is not over”, the Chicago-based lawyer said: “It is absolutely horrible for me to watch my client be taken into custody. We don’t feel good about that at all.”

“Harvey is very strong,” she added. “Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man. He knows that we will continue to fight for him and knows that this is not over.”

We know Harvey’s very strong. Several witnesses testified about his great strength.

Cyrus Vance gave a press conference after the verdict.

Vance had a stern message for Weinstein’s defense team, lead by the highly contentious Chicago lawyer Donna Rotunno, who approached the court proceedings as though it was #MeToo that was on trial and not her client. She even reduced one of the key witnesses – a woman the Guardian is not naming who alleged rape for which Weinstein was found guilty in the third degree today – to uncontrollable sobbing.

The witness didn’t take it like a man.

“I hope that after this verdict it will become more obvious that those kinds of attacks on survivors and victims will no longer work in this day and age,” he said. “It’s time that the defense stop using them.”

They probably do work though.

A cold and calculating sexual predator

Feb 24th, 2020 10:27 am | By

Harvey Weinstein found guilty.

The jury of seven men and five women at the New York supreme court took five days to reach their verdict. They found the defendant guilty of a criminal sex act in the first degree for forcing oral sex on the former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006.

The count carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of up to 25 years.

The jury also convicted Weinstein of rape in the third degree. This relates to him raping a woman the Guardian is not naming, as her wishes for identification are not clear, in a New York hotel in 2013.

Weinstein was acquitted of three further charges, including the two most serious counts of predatory sexual assault which carried a possible life sentence and an alternative count of rape in the first degree.

Weird about the predatory part because as everyone is saying, what could be more predatory than Harvey Weinstein? But then, that’s the overall view we get from reading the papers, while the specific case is another matter.

He’s now in jail waiting to be sentenced.

The conviction marks the final comeuppance for a towering figure who wielded his power in the movie industry – as well as his commanding physical presence – over vulnerable young women seeking his help.

He should have decided he was trans. “My commanding physical presence is not a rape-assistant but a burden, a torment, a prison from which I have at last escaped.”

The details of the prosecution are very interesting.

The guilty verdict could also have a profound impact on the way sex crimes are prosecuted. The New York district attorney’s office took an enormous gamble in how they set up the trial.

Prosecutors chose as main accusers two women, both of whom continued to have close – and at times sexual – contact with Weinstein after they were attacked. In the past, prosecutors have almost always balked at such cases where coerced and consensual sex exists side-by-side, considering them too messy to secure guilty verdicts.

The fact that the tactic succeeded with the jury is a sign of the shifting sands of #MeToo. It suggests that prosecutors might have far more leeway in future to take on cases where victims continue to be in the thrall of their attackers after sexual assaults – a scenario which sex crimes experts say is all too common and yet up til now has been almost entirely neglected by the criminal courts.

It’s almost as if women matter.

Such a striking victory can be credited to the two intrepid prosecutors, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and Meghan Hast, who meticulously laid out the defendant’s culpability. They did so against the headwinds generated by Weinstein’s lawyers led by the Chicago-based sex crimes defender Donna Rotunno who was so aggressive towards witnesses that she induced in one of the two main accusers a fully fledged panic attack.

There, spotted in the wild – one of the reasons rape is so seldom prosecuted and even more seldom convicted.

The prosecutors called 27 witnesses over 12 days, building up a profile of the movie producer as a cold and calculating sexual predator that ultimately overwhelmed defense arguments. They emphasized the vast gulf in power – and girth – between Weinstein and his victims.

He was a “famous and powerful Hollywood producer living a lavish lifestyle that most of us will never know”, Hast said, pointing out that he counted among his friends not only the elite of Hollywood but also world leaders like Bill Clinton. By contrast, the unnamed rape victim was brought up on a Washington state dairy farm.

It’s bizarre, when you think about it – he’s already got all kinds of power, and surely more sexual opportunity than he could use up, so what’s the point? It must be the predation itself that’s the point – i.e. the sadism.

But I’d better be careful, I wouldn’t want to kink-shame him.

Weinstein, 67, meticulously planned his attacks, carefully selecting his victims for their vulnerability and neediness. He set them loyalty tests that if they passed would then lead onto the next stage of his predatory grooming.

Which, being interpreted, means: he is one sick motherfucker.

I’m kink-shaming; sue me.

The rape victim described the defendant as a Jekyll and Hyde. “If he heard the word ‘no’, it was like a trigger for him,” she said.

As the evidence unfolded in courtroom 99, through the eerily similar accounts of all six women, it became clear that sex for Weinstein had nothing to do with seduction, romance and affection, let alone intimacy or love. As the rape victim testified, her attacker had to use a needle to inject himself in the penis with an erectile dysfunction medicine before he could carry out the assault.

It didn’t even have to do with sex in the ordinary sense, unless you consider sex to be inextricably entwined with sadism, which clearly some people do.

Harvey Weinstein will be the stuff of nightmares for a generation.

Dispatches from the fever swamp

Feb 23rd, 2020 5:22 pm | By

Can we move to Greenland?

Filled with snakes

Feb 23rd, 2020 5:05 pm | By

More on Trump’s campaign to purge all the “bad people” by which he means people who don’t kiss his ass four times a day:

In reporting this story, I have been briefed on, or reviewed, memos and lists the president received since 2018 suggesting whom he should hire and fire. Most of these details have never been published.

A well-connected network of conservative activists with close ties to Trump and top administration officials is quietly helping develop these “Never Trump”/pro-Trump lists, and some sent memos to Trump to shape his views, per sources with direct knowledge.

Members of this network include Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Republican Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen.

The big picture: Since Trump’s Senate acquittal, aides say the president has crossed a psychological line regarding what he calls the “Deep State.” He feels his government — from Justice to State to Defense to Homeland Security — is filled with “snakes.” He wants them fired and replaced ASAP.

Again…it’s all personal. There is no detachment, no ability (much less willingness) to step back and think “this person opposes my plans and actions but is a talented and ethical person anyway.” The only test is pro-Trump or not. The nots are all evil.

The details are creepy as hell – fanatics writing memos for Trump accusing current staff of horrors and recommending clowns from Fox News and other media outlets to replace them. It’s as if the toddlers have taken over.

We have a name

Feb 23rd, 2020 11:46 am | By

This again. Again. Rewire News:

Across the country, the anti-abortion movement continues to shame, pressure, and punish people who understand that abortion is a human right.

No, it doesn’t. It continues to shame, pressure, and punish women. The anti-abortion movement is about as far from being gender-neutral as it’s possible to be.

For nearly two decades, nearly three million people have ended their pregnancy with medication abortion.

Nope. Not people. Women. It’s not people who end their pregnancies, it’s women.

Self-managing an abortion consists of two sets of pills to be taken at or under ten weeks after the first day of a person’s last period: The first, mifepristone, blocks the hormone essential to advancing pregnancy. In the following 24 to 48 hours, the person takes the second medication, misoprostol, to empty the uterus.

The woman. Not the person, the woman.

Research demonstrates that with pills from reliable sources, accurate information and back-up care in the rare circumstances it is needed, people can self-manage their abortion—empowering individuals to make autonomous choices about their own reproductive health and increasing access to safe, effective abortion care options that fit their personal circumstances.

It’s not “people” who need to self-manage their abortion, it’s women.

The biggest risk to people who self-manage their abortions using medication abortion is not a threat to their health or safety from the abortion itself, but the threat of prosecution as a result of over-policing in communities, systemic racism, and outdated laws. 

The risk is to women. Refusing to call women “women” is insulting and minimizing.

Indeed, since 1973, at least 21 people in the United States have been arrested, investigated, and jailed for ending their own pregnancies. Instead of prosecuting people and providers, our communities should be ensuring that anyone who needs or wants to, can end their pregnancy safely, effectively, with dignity and respect.

Women. It was at least 21 women who were arrested, investigated, and jailed for ending their own pregnancies. Stop erasing them. It’s women and providers who should not be prosecuted. Stop erasing them.

We must pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get rid of the medically unnecessary regulations that make it hard for people to access medication abortion pills. And we must hold our lawmakers accountable and demand they repeal laws that could be used to criminalize people who self-manage their abortions.

Women. Women.

Too late

Feb 23rd, 2020 11:12 am | By

I’ve never understood the point of Chris Matthews anyway: he seems to me to be just what you don’t want in a tv pundit – a loud unmodulated screamy voice saying stupid things without pausing for breath. Now people are saying he should go away because too ignorant for primetime.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is facing calls to resign after he compared Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucus to the Nazi invasion of France. Sanders won the Nevada Democratic caucuses with 47 percent of the vote, the Associated Press reported.

As the results came in and Sanders took an early lead on Saturday night, Hardball host Matthews claimed Republicans would release opposition research on Sanders that would “kill him” if he became the Democratic nominee for president. But Matthews said it was “too late” to stop him, at one point comparing Sanders’ victory over other top Democratic contenders to Hitler’s invasion of France.

“I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940 and the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says, ‘How can that be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.'”

People are reacting to the Nazi bit, but it looks to me as if Matthews was talking about the blitzkrieg bit. Nazi ideology is one thing and German military technique is another. The fall of France amazed everyone because it was so swift and unexpected. It’s still a ridiculous analogy though, but that’s the trouble with being a tv pundit whose chief skill is screaming.

I don’t want Sanders to win the nomination though. Over 80 and post-heart-attack? Bad idea. He shouldn’t be running at all.

We don’t seem to be able to do anything right.

Service dogs in training

Feb 23rd, 2020 9:55 am | By

Which level?

Feb 23rd, 2020 9:40 am | By

Oh it gave her pause. Well that’s all right then.

Lisa Nandy has said she was given “pause for thought” about signing a pledge card from the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

The one about expelling feminists who don’t lie down so that trans women can walk on them.

The pledge calls on candidates in the Labour leadership race to back the expulsion of party members who hold “bigoted, transphobic views”.

It also describes Woman’s Place UK, a group that backs biological sex to be acknowledged as part of maintaining women’s rights, as a “trans-exclusionist hate group”.

Nandy was on a tv chat show today, and that’s where she admitted to the pause.

“I have to say, that was the part of the pledge that gave me pause for thought about whether to sign it,” said Nandy. “I decided to sign it in the end because I think that the sentiment of the pledge about protecting trans rights and about accepting that trans men are men and trans women are women is really important, especially at the moment with the level of discrimination that people face.”

So if next year we’re told to “accept” that humans are lions if they say they are, will that be “really important” too? Do we have to “accept” all such claims? Or is it just sex that is such a trivial and easy-to-swap category?

Also, about that “level of discrimination that people face”…she does still realize that women face discrimination? Or does she?

“I think that the question for us is always about individual behaviour and it’s right to recognise that there are women who have fought for generations in order to create safe spaces for women who want to have a proper debate about how we best protect that in an era where we’ve recognised that trans men are men, trans women are women, and we’ve got to do far more to protect trans women from harm as well.”

But we haven’t “recognised.” We can’t recognize it, because it isn’t true. We can say it, claim it, announce it, but we can’t know it or acknowledge it or recognize it, because it isn’t true.

Asked whether she would be happy for people who identify as women to stand on all-women shortlists, the Wigan MP said: “Yeah, I think that you have to walk the walk in the Labour party and that means that we have to do two things – one is that we have to accept that people are who they say they are. I’ve never believed that politicians or even me as an individual should interfere or dictate to people who they are.”

But we don’t have to accept that people are who they say they are. We don’t. She knows that herself if she thinks about it. We don’t accept mere say-so on all occasions, and on many occasions we’d be damn fools to do so.

Even if you skip over obvious things like having to show ID for many things and just look at the profundities of accepting people’s explanations of themselves, we still don’t have to. People aren’t all that good at knowing and explaining themselves. We have all sorts of biases that make it tricky. It’s not “dictating to people who they are” to see a man when a man is in front of you. In some senses it’s true that we don’t have the right to tell people who they are, but it’s also true that people don’t have a right to tell us how to perceive them.

He was broadcasting a message to his network

Feb 23rd, 2020 9:02 am | By

Sarah Chayes points out that Trump’s corruption is very public for a reason.

In Kabul, Western officials scratched their heads as to why Karzai would want to confess, in an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, to meddling in judicial affairs. The U.S. and other donor nations on which he depended for his very survival would certainly be displeased. So he must have a very good reason, I thought at the time. And then I realized that he was broadcasting a message to his network: Don’t worry. I stand by the deal.

Even a cursory look at the list of Trump’s February 19 beneficiaries suggests that his aim was not to right the wrong of prosecutorial overreach, but to send a similar message to his network—to reinforce and perhaps expand it. More than 2 million people are incarcerated across the United States. By a very rough estimate extrapolated from federal numbers (statistics of any kind on this topic are hard to find), well less than 7 percent of them were convicted of corruption or significant white-collar crimes. Yet no fewer than eight of Trump’s 11 boons went to perpetrators of this stripe: committers of tax fraud, of orchestrating a giant scheme to cheat Medicare, of multiple violations of securities law while creating a speculative bubble in junk bonds (which crashed in 1989 to widespread devastation), or of extorting a children’s hospital and trying to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama left vacant when he was elected president.

Another tell is that Trump’s clemency came not at the end of his time in office, as is sometimes the case with such favors bestowed on cronies and swindlers, but well before that—indeed, ahead of an election in which he is running. The gesture was not a guilty half-secret, but a promise. It was meant to show that the guarantee of impunity for choice members of America’s corrupt networks is an ongoing principle.

I’m guessing that there’s also a less pragmatic reason for doing it openly, which is the joy of rubbing our noses in it. “Haha you can’t touch me, Mitch won’t let you, haha, I can do anything I want to, I can smear poo on my face and you can’t stop me.” But that’s just a parenthesis. The pragmatic reason is far more important.

For this message to be delivered with the utmost clarity, the pardons and commutations had to be seen as the work of Trump himself. They could not result or even appear to result from a formal process carried out by the Department of Justice and the White House, as is normally the case. Pay attention is the point being driven home: The network and its chief are what counts, not the government as an impartial institution.

As egregious as Trump’s moves to bolster impunity for a certain type of criminality are, however, the phenomenon predates him, though in subtler guises. Prior presidential pardons have also disproportionately favored white-collar criminals. Thanks to a concerted campaign that lasted decades and several Supreme Court decisions (most unanimous), the definition of public corruption and bribery has been narrowed to the point that an official would almost have to make an effort to commit the infractions. Prosecutions of white-collar crime have been plummeting for decades.

I didn’t know that about the campaign and the Supreme Court rulings.

What a colossal mess.