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into Glencoats Primary, in Paisley, last week to speak to pupils about the notorious Section 28 Act, which was later repealed.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

Do be sweet, do not be annoying

Feb 22nd, 2020 4:43 pm | By

The jokes write themselves.

Presumably “land a great guy” means “capture the affections of a man for purposes of marriage or commitment or a rewarding temporary relationship”…but isn’t the list kind of bare bones? Even putting feminism aside for a moment, is that really what Great Guys want? Someone sweet and not annoying? That’s it?

On the upside, I guess women in the market for a Great Guy can feel relieved, because meeting the criteria would be a doddle. No need to be thoughtful or curious or clever or widely read or funny or surprising or…anything, really. Just sweet; just not annoying.

I say it’s simpler to get a blow-up doll and a chef.

Just relax, bitch

Feb 22nd, 2020 10:56 am | By

A Labour Party aide explains that women over 39 are just stupid and clueless:

One senior campaign aide said that the issue was becoming increasingly difficult to navigate and could do long-term damage to the party in an area where it has traditionally been strong.

“I think we are all in a bit of a bind,” the aide said. “We want to be the party of equality but there is a risk that we are seen to be obsessed by this and are tearing ourselves apart. The tone on both sides has been blown out of all proportion.”

Be the party of equality by all means, but you have to be clear that “equality” doesn’t mean “everything I like.”

The aide added that the argument was, in part, born out of a “generational divide” on the left. “On one side you have women in their forties, fifties and sixties who identify with the feminist movement. They find the idea of self-identification very challenging. On the other you have women in their twenties and thirties who are much more relaxed about this and for whom it is an equalities issue.

Ah yes – we old bats are too rigid and unrelaxed to just lie back and enjoy it. That is what feminism has always been about, right? Relaxing?

Also, we don’t “identify with the feminist movement” – we are feminists. Not everything is about identifying as or with.

Also, we don’t find the idea of self-identification very challenging, we find it very wrong and stupid. We’re old enough to know that obfuscation and gibberish are worthless tools in any fight for equality or justice or rights. We’re also old enough to know that people sometimes lie about who they are, and sometimes get it wrong.

Also, if these relaxed young women do think men’s claims to be women are “an equalities issue” in the sense that we have to agree with those men, then they’re way too relaxed and not paying attention.

A rapid change in public opinion

Feb 22nd, 2020 9:54 am | By

News from Sweden:

For several days this week the veteran Swedish journalist Malou von Sivers will cover the same topic in every episode of her nightly TV chat show: the extraordinary rise in diagnoses of gender dysphoria among teenage girls.

The immediate trigger for Von Sivers’s themed week is a report from Sweden’s Board of Health and Welfare which confirmed a 1,500% rise between 2008 and 2018 in gender dysphoria diagnoses among 13- to 17-year-olds born as girls.

But it also reflects a rapid change in public opinion. Just a year ago, there seemed few official obstacles left in the way of young people who wanted gender reassignment treatment.

Which is to say, puberty blockers, aka an uncontrolled medical experiment on children.

In the autumn of 2018, the Social Democrat-led government, under pressure from the gay, lesbian and transgender group RFSL, proposed a new law which would reduce the minimum age for sex reassignment medical care from 18 to 15, remove all need for parental consent, and allow children as young as 12 to change their legal gender.

Then in March last year, the backlash started. Christopher Gillberg, a psychiatrist at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, wrote an article in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper warning that hormone treatment and surgery on children was “a big experiment” which risked becoming one of the country’s worst medical scandals.

And the big experiment rests on the premise that children will reliably continue to want what they say they want right now, for the rest of their lives. That seems like a very shaky premise to base such a drastic experiment on. When I was 11 the closest I could get to having an idea of what I wanted to do with my life was a fantasy of driving around the western US having adventures. I’m glad nobody gave me a car and waved goodbye.

In April, Uppdrag Granskning, an investigative TV programme, followed up with a documentary profiling a former trans man, Sametti, who regretted her irreversible treatment.

In October, the programme turned its fire on the team at Stockholm’s Karolinska University hospital, which specialises in treating minors with gender dysphoria. The unit has been criticised for carrying out double mastectomies on children as young as 14, and accused of rushing through treatment and failing to consider adequately whether patients’ other psychiatric or developmental issues might better explain their unhappiness with their bodies. The Karolinska disputed the claim, saying it carefully assessed each case.

But who is assessing what “carefully” means?

On 20 December, the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment, which the government had asked to review the scientific research into the recent surge in teenagers reporting gender dysphoria, reported that there was very little research either into the reason for the increase or the risks or benefits of hormone treatment and surgery.

First, do no harm.

Guest post: Has the age of castrati returned?

Feb 22nd, 2020 9:06 am | By

Originally a comment by Papito on The child deals with life by wearing pink and flowers.

The kids with dysphoria or gender confusion almost always grew up to be homosexual adults, not transsexual adults. Transsexual adult males usually weren’t dysphoric when they were kids….

I think they were all gender dysphoric as kids in a retrospective sense. You know, like all of a sudden, as adults, they discovered that they were always gender dysphoric and that’s what their problem was. But you’re right. All of the guys I know who transitioned were nebbishes who weren’t the least bit feminine before transition. Meanwhile, I knew other guys who were seriously swishy as kids and they mostly turned out gay. The idea that someone wants to intervene with these boys and recruit them into this trans cult and castrate them is nothing short of horrifying to me.

It’s not enough to shut down all the lesbian bars and force adult lesbians out of their own spaces. It’s not enough to screw up women’s sports, and try to get rapists into women’s prisons. They have to meddle with the kids. All those little teenage butches being convinced to mutilate themselves, destroy their voices, destroy their health. All those femme boys being sold a fantasy bill of goods. This magic bean will make you into a woman. No, no it won’t. It will only make you into a eunuch. Has the age of castrati returned?

I’m an ecumenical sort of guy. I’m fine with letting all the kinks have their place to play. I’ll even call some bony geek in a skirt “miss” if it makes him happy. But this TRA crap makes everybody else’s life worse. I’m not a lesbian. I’m not a gay man. I’m not a child. I’m not one of the people whose life is most directly threatened by TRA nonsense. But it makes life harder for parents, which I am, and it makes life harder too for people who just don’t want to play the gender game as hard as others seem to. I find it pretentious and twee to refer to oneself as “gender non-conforming,” but I have always looked forward to a future of loosening gender role strictures, where fewer and fewer people care that women are supposed to do or be X, and men are supposed to do or be Y, and this TRA crap is a giant step back from that.

Be careful not to reify the notion

Feb 21st, 2020 3:56 pm | By

Hey kids, gather ’round, it’s time to play Invent Your Own Reality!

Fun fact: lots of things do not mean there is a coherent binary thing called “biological sex,” in fact pretty much all things do not mean that except the nine words “there is a coherent binary thing called ‘biological sex.'” BUT – and this is important – that fun fact in turn does not mean that Chase Strangio has successfully established that there is no such thing as biological sex. Chase Strangio is just talking, just blowing hot air, just parroting the fatuous pseudo-technical claims that trans ideology has been shaping on its wheel for several years. It’s just self-important jargon, and it means nothing.

Don’t go to Chase Strangio if you’re looking for informed discussion of what we mean by “gender.”

Tough shmough

Feb 21st, 2020 11:01 am | By

From the Guardian Live on Trump:

After Trump dismissed reports of Russia’s preference for him in the 2020 race as a Democratic “misinformation campaign,” the former CIA chief of Russian operations tweeted this:

Important point. It’s not about Trump playing “tough on Russia” guy for the camera. It’s about having a corrupt, ignorant, stupid, incompetent, reckless, ludicrous clown playing president for the camera.

Mind you, we’ve already had presidents that make us look foolish and inept, but having a Trump dials it up to a bajillion.

To prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress

Feb 21st, 2020 10:25 am | By

But he’s just one of those wacky far-left types so pay no attention.

Guest post: The stories people tell each other

Feb 21st, 2020 9:47 am | By

Originally a comment by guest on What the specific demands for liberation ARE.

It seems a bit ridiculous to think the stories people tell each other in any culture DON’T influence the behaviour of those people. And don’t forget Harry Potter–I was, I think, possibly too old for it when it hit, and after reading half of the first novel gave it up as boring and derivative, but I’ve read and heard some things that make me think it would be difficult to overestimate its effect on the generation it was aimed at. I never watched the X-Files myself, but your recommendation is making me think I should check it out. It just seems a shame that the stories in our culture are, at base, designed not to teach lessons or preserve culture, traditions or history but to generate income for the tellers.

Here’s something I wrote the other day:

I went to a talk last night in which the speaker mentioned the idea that our narrative is what drives our perceptions and behaviour. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I’ve thought (and possibly written) before about the kinds of narratives I remember from the media I consumed as a child—stories, movies, Saturday morning cartoons. Two in particular seemed to be persistent/consistent. The first was ‘when you first encounter X it’s frightening/confusing/stupid, but the more you learn about X the more you realise why X is what it is and, if not sympathise, at least understand.’ The example of this narrative that comes to my mind is the Horta in ST:TOS. But there were several stories of ‘the primitive people do X, the white rational invaders show up and say X is a backward superstition so they make people stop doing X, either by neglecting it or forcing them to give up their customs, and horrific consequences ensue.’ Moral of the story: if you don’t understand something then learn about it; every ‘other’ is a subject of its own story, every ‘irrational’ ‘primitive’ behaviour has a reason.

The second was what I call the ‘heist story’ and what a friend called the ‘D&D story’. A random group of people, from different backgrounds, with different histories and different skill sets, come together or are forced together, and each contributes something unique to the success of a project they carry out together. The example of this that comes to my mind, though it wasn’t something I encountered as a child, is Sharon Green’s ‘Blending’ novels (though I wish the two female protagonists weren’t ‘a prostitute’ and ‘a merchant’s daughter’–particularly as, in the pseudo-preindustrial England of typical Anglophone fantasy a ‘merchant’s daughter’ is basically ‘a merchant’), but any ‘quest’ story has this element. Moral of the story: every person, even a marginalised/othered person, has some value if you can find it. People succeed when they contribute to diverse groups.

So what happened to these narratives? As far as I can tell we have different ones now—it seems the most popular narrative now is the superhero story. Moral of the story: some people (a very few special people) are just naturally better than others. They may work as a team occasionally, but they are an elite team. The rest of us can only hope that these elites might do something that benefits us; we have no agency, and can only rely on the good nature and integrity of the ‘good’ elites, who will protect us from the ‘bad’ elites.

My question at the moment is which comes first, the narrative or the reality, and which drives the other?

Guest post: The child deals with life by wearing pink and flowers

Feb 21st, 2020 9:30 am | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on You there: get out.

though you’ve likely never met a single transgender child

To add: this is a huge assumption on your part. Like the Christians that people my front porch on Saturday mornings, you assume that we would automatically change our minds if we ever met a single person who fits in the group being discussed.

In fact, I have known several. It was the situation of one of those children that caused me to question my support for the trans lobby, which had prior to that been unwavering. When I saw the way that child was ushered into trans while going through therapy for anxiety following a series of tragic events in his life, including the extremely violent accidental death of his father, I started to question the reality of the trans experience. Instead of dealing with the issues this child had (legitimate issues), the therapist declared him a girl, and now the child deals with life by wearing pink and flowers. The number of symptoms of the DSM that the trans advocates have adopted as signs that you are trans appears to be approaching 100%, and the ordinary every day experiences of life that people go through that have been adopted as symptoms of trans also appears to be reaching critical mass. In fact, reading the list of indicators that you might be trans leaves me breathless, and realizing that, if this is true, we are all trans.

I have never forgotten the day my own therapist asked me if I wanted to be male, because of my struggles with the female expectations laid on me by the world. I told him no, I just wanted to be allowed to be a woman in my own way. He nodded, moved on, and worked with me toward reaching my goal. I have now seen things written and speeches made by therapists who are proud of the fact that they do not accept that answer, and will do what they can to persuade the child they are, in fact, wanting to be the opposite sex.

When refusing to wear barrettes is hailed as a sign of being “pre-literate trans” rather than possibly “pre-literate feminist”, I find it questionable. When girls are encouraged to transition because they like short hair and pants, I find it questionable. When men tell me they feel “euphoric” when they are treated like a woman, I find it questionable.

At this point, I think the fact that I know as many trans as I do in my small circle of acquaintances is a red flag for me.