Notes and Comment Blog

Screamed at by the identifarians

Nov 3rd, 2015 5:27 pm | By

Julie Bindel and Rachel Jolley were on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking tonight talking about no-platforming and radical feminism – “not the fun kind that men love, pole dancing your way to liberation,” Julie said.

Their segment starts at 30 minutes.

Rue Avijit Roy, Paris

Nov 3rd, 2015 4:11 pm | By

Via Riasat Ahsan on Facebook:

Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders / RSF renamed the road of the Bangladeshi embassy in Paris to “RUE AVIJIT ROY” today, in honour of Avijit Roy, the first to be slain as part of a series of fatal attacks on outspoken secularists in Bangladesh this year, which still continues today.

Congratulations you “soldiers of Allah”, members of Ansarullah Bangla Team! Thanks to you, whenever people think of Bangladesh, they’ll be reminded of a brave people, voices of dissent who were so powerful, the only thing you could do to stop people from listening was to silence them forever. But alas, they speak on! They live on. Thanks to you, their voices are more powerful than ever, their books, “The Virus of Faith”, “The Philosophy of Disbelief” recognized worldwide. We are no longer in the 7th century Arab dessert my friends. Striking our necks will no longer serve to silence us. Didn’t the Quran tell you that? Just like your beliefs, your actions will be relegated to the afterlife. This, the dunya, is our world. People will remeber the names of Avijit Roy, Humayun Azad, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Das, Niloy Neel, and all the other people you’ve killed in order to protect your flimsy beliefs from criticism, as long as they remember Bangladesh. By their names and their writings, Bangladesh will be known. Not as an Islamic State. Bangladesh will never be an Islamic State. It will NEVER be governed by Islamic Sharia’. Nor will Pakistan. And your names and your beliefs will die in the shadows of great men and women.




Nov 3rd, 2015 3:59 pm | By

The Ansarullah Bangla Team has put out a new hitlist. Taslima’s name is at the top.

The group reportedly put up a list of 14 names of bloggers and writers on social media on Sunday, which includes several Bangladeshi writers who are now living abroad.

Taslima Nasreen has been living in the United States after threats to her life. She was moved to the US in May this year by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), which had said Nasreen was the ‘next target for murder by Al Qaeda-linked extremists’.

Apart from Nasreen, , other bloggers and writers on the terror hit list are Farjana Kabir Khan and Asif Mohiuddin who are currently in Germany, and Arifur Rahman and Santanu Adib who are in the UK.

I know Asif, too.

Some of these names had also appeared in a previous hit list issued by Ansarullah Bangla Team in September, in which the militants had called them ‘enemies of Islam’ and threatened to kill them if their citizenship was not cancelled.

Taslima tweeted:

taslima nasreen ‏@taslimanasreen 14 hours ago
Islamic killer group Ansarullah Bangla Team made a new hit list. My name is on the top of the list. 😱😫😡


Nobody has read the blogs

Nov 3rd, 2015 3:47 pm | By

In Dhaka today:

About 1,000 Bangladeshi authors and teachers marched through the streets of the capital on Tuesday, asserting their right to free speech days after a suspected Islamist group attacked writers and publishers critical of religious militancy.

That’s so brave of them. On protests here you know the police may be taking pictures. There you know guys with machetes may be taking pictures.

Despite the climate of fear caused by the attacks that follow the killings of four secularist bloggers this year, writers turned out in large numbers for the rally in Dhaka.

“No one is safe. First they killed bloggers. Now they are targeting publishers. Soon they will attack anyone who is progressive-minded,” said Khaledur Rahman, an author who is himself facing a death threat.

They will kill everyone, until only fascists are left.

Police joint commissioner Monirul Islam said investigators were looking closely at a home-grown group called Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) as the latest attacks bore the hallmarks of earlier killings of bloggers for which it took responsibility.

The little-known Islamist group wants sharia rule in secular Bangladesh and has vowed to kill critics of extreme Islam.

“They just tell these youth that the bloggers are the enemies of Islam. Nobody has read the blogs. They just blindly follow what the ABT says,” said a police investigator.

Of course nobody has read the blogs; that would be haram.

No significant difference

Nov 3rd, 2015 10:50 am | By

Nora Caplan-Bricker at Slate reports:

Men and women are equal—and so are the architectures of our brains, according to a new study by neuroscientist Lise Eliot of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. According to a write-up in Wired, the study was aimed at evaluating the theory that the hippocampus is larger in women than in men; since the hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion, this has been proposed as an explanation for all those feelings ladies tend to have. Eliot and her team analyzed 6,000 MRI scans and found “no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women.”

This isn’t the first study that has shown no significant difference [insert various brain items here] between men and women. There are a lot of such studies.

This is more than a matter of abstract interest for Eliot, the author of the 2010 book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, about how dubious theories of sex differences in the brain lead us to raise and educate boys and girls differently. She’s devoted years to decrying these kinds of stereotypes and their frustratingly strong grip on the American approach to childrearing.

And not just child-rearing – the American approach to everything. Women have to be seen as radically different from men, so that there can be justification (however feeble) for treating them as subordinates. There are lots of studies that do just that, right alongside the studies that bust them.

These theories may be tidy, but that doesn’t make them true. The Science articledescribes them as “misguided, and often justified by weak, cherrypicked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.” Unfortunately, as long as they dovetail neatly with American culture, these ideas may remain popular with both parents and principles. As Eliot told Wired in regards to her newest study, “Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women, [a]nd they often make a big splash. … Many people believe there is such a thing as a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain.’ But when you look beyond the popularized studies—at collections of all the data—you often find that the differences are minimal.”

The differences are minimal, and yet we build such towering edifices on them.

It is the mindset of gender inequality

Nov 3rd, 2015 9:01 am | By

I’ve written before about Leslee Udwin’s interviews with the men who raped Jyoti Singh and pulled her intestines out on that Delhi bus in 2012. But here’s another sample, from NPR:

They play a clip from Udwin’s film, then the interviewer asks Udwin about it:

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A lady are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop.

MARTIN: So what is he saying?

UDWIN: Well, essentially, he is giving expression to patriarchy. He is saying that men hold this diamond – this precious gem of womankind – in their hand. They control it. It’s their decision as to where they put this diamond. If you put it on the street, he’s saying, you deserve what you get. Keep your girls and women under lock and key at home. Give them no independence. Give them no equality. It’s just appalling.

Keep them under lock and key, and if they outrageously and criminally escape and go outside, punish them by raping them and pulling out their intestines.

MARTIN: Is there something in the making of this film that particularly surprised you?

UDWIN: So many things surprised me, Michel. First of all, I imagined that at least one of these seven rapists I interviewed would express remorse for even one second. No, they did not- no remorse. Why? Because they deep down really don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong. In fact, they’re indignant. Why are they be made an example of when everybody’s at it?

Then I expected them to be monsters. I thought I was inquiring into the psychopathy of rapists because the media had told me they were monsters. I wish they had been. Every one of these rapists was as normal as they come. It is the mindset of gender inequality that is responsible for rape and violence against women. These are just the symptoms, and until we change that, this will continue apace across the entire world.

While we watch helplessly.

Oops, there goes the baby

Nov 2nd, 2015 3:52 pm | By

Again with this. This time at Feminist Philosophers, in a post about two posts discussing Germaine Greer.

There’s a lot wrong with it, but this one claim is especially infuriating (as well as all too familiar):

‘But I don’t get why gender identity is such a big deal’ – Sometimes, lurking in the background of these kind of criticisms of trans feminism is the suggesti[on] that we probably shouldn’t make such a fuss over gender identity. For [those] who have a relatively limited sense of or feelings toward their own gender identity, it can sometimes be hard to understand why some people think it’s so important. (Insert obligatory grumbling about ‘identity politics gone mad’.) As trans people have argued, though, this may be one way in which we experience cis privilege. Cis people have often never had to care that much or think that much about gender identity, but that’s part of what it is to be cis – we have gender identity everyone expects of us, our gender identity has never been a source of marginalization, fear, discrimination, or shame for us, etc.

Are you kidding me?

If our gender identity has never been a source of marginalization, fear, discrimination, or shame, then what the hell has feminism ever been about? Why is it a thing? Why haven’t women and men always been on an equal footing, everywhere in the world?


Girlish and boyish

Nov 2nd, 2015 10:54 am | By

I hate to use the Daily Mail as a source, but every now and then I do. This story on Saturday reports that an organization called Gendered Intelligence runs workshops in a few primary schools in the UK. Very few – the Mail says “up to 20” schools a year get the workshops. Well 20 is a tiny number. Minuscule. The issue I have isn’t with the quantity but with the content.

In one class, Year Six boys at Hotspur Primary in Newcastle are asked to describe the ‘girlish’ things they like to do, while the girls say what ‘boyish’ pursuits they enjoy.

Gendered Intelligence’s founder Jay Stewart, who is giving the class, asks the pupils if they think ‘life will be hard at school if you’re a boy at school who likes doing “girlish things”?’

See that’s what’s fucked up about this – all this god damn sorting. All this artificial monopolization. Girls don’t have a monopoly on dolls, and boys don’t have a monopoly on adventure games.

Margaret Morrissey, of pressure group Parents Outloud, said four and five-year-olds were ‘far, far too young’ to receive the lessons. She added: ‘We’re in danger of frightening children and making them feel they ought to feel like this.’

Mr Stewart said: ‘It’s so important to be teaching children in schools that they can be anything that they want regardless of the gender that they have been given at birth.

‘Gendered Intelligence delivers age-appropriate workshops and assemblies by working closely with the senior leadership teams of each of the schools we work with. We are proud of this work and feedback is always incredibly positive.’

But does it? Does it teach them they can be anything that they want regardless of their sex? Or does it teach them they have to switch to a different sex if they like the “wrong” things for their own sex?

The title – Gendered Intelligence – is not very encouraging.

Selfies with a mutilated corpse

Nov 2nd, 2015 9:32 am | By

Just fucking unbelievable. The Jack the Ripper “museum” was promoting the opportunity to take selfies with “Jack” and the facsimile corpse of one of the murdered mutilated women. Selfies with the corpse of a slashed woman. What is wrong with everyone?

The museum was promising Halloween selfies with models of his victims and the founder of the museum, who was dressed as Jack the Ripper.

“Dressed as Jack the Ripper” doesn’t mean anything, because no one knows who the murderer was. “Perp the mutilator” would be a better name for him. (Yes, I doubt the perp was a woman.)

On their website, they posted: “How about a picture with Jack in Mitre Square together with the body of Catherine Eddowes?”

No doubt they did that in order to get publicity, and no doubt we’re falling into their trap by talking about it, but too bad. They did it to drum up business, whether by deliberately stirring up outrage or not; it’s misogynist and disgusting either way. They’re dealing in anti-erotic anti-women porn, the kind of porn that’s for men who can’t get it up unless they’re fantasizing about violence against women. That is fucked up.

The revolutionaries

Nov 1st, 2015 4:16 pm | By

I find it hard to believe this isn’t satire, but people tell me it’s not. Ok then – meet The five young revolutionary feminists you need to listen to.

Just because you lop off your dick doesn’t make you a fucking woman

This is just one regressive comment recently shit out by Germaine Greer – Australian second-wave “feminist”, writer and author of The Female Eunuch.

Her shitty statements have incited a rally of essays rightfully calling out her attempt to pitch transgender women as imposters, claiming they don’t “look like, sound like or behave like women.”

Essentially, her violent comments attempt to erase, undermine and deny the identity of transgender people, many of whom fall victim to hate crime, abuse and murder for choosing to be who they are. More widely, her comments insist on a very narrow genital-centric idea of gender, a disturbing notion that is laughable against the libratory spaces and discussions facilitating varied modes of existing in the world.

It’s easy to say Greer’s views are dated; it’s more accurate to note that she’s just plain wrong. As such, we’ve listed five young revolutionary feminists that you should be listening to instead. The voices below champion and embrace the complexities surrounding gender, race, identity, beauty and sexuality with a sharpness and intelligence that puts the Aussie author to shame.

Sharper and more intelligent than Germaine Greer, eh? And revolutionary besides! Exciting.


Beauty afficianado and Tumblr-don, Sicardi captivates readers on the daily with her comments on power, beauty, cyborgs, fashion and gender. Feminist discussion is interspersed with perfume analysis, self-care reminders, selfies and cultural critique. Her writing intelligently picks at debates around queerness and beauty that go untouched (see: “I thought I was ill because I was queer” and “Feminine beauty transwomen experience”) but there’s also something inspiring and seductive about the way she celebrates herself, her talents and her dope peers (see: Fariha RoisinSarah Nicole Prickett).

I took a look. She doesn’t strike me as sharper and more intelligent than Germaine Greer.


Sosa is an Argentinian and black-Brazilian artist who makes videos and teaches classes on the liberalizing and healing qualities of twerking. Her practice may sound weird to those used to appropriative media demonising twerking and the bodies of women of colour in the same breath, but it’s this oppressive climate that Sosa is out to dismantle. Her work sifts through the complex history of twerking, it’s eroticism and the self-pleasure it can afford, giving the act a cultural and academic platform (her PhD is even called Twerk and torque: new strategies for subjectivity decolonization in the web 2.0 times) that’s both timely and important.

That’s why I have a really hard time believing this isn’t satire.

Anyway. See you after the twerking revolution.


Nov 1st, 2015 3:27 pm | By

Take heed:

A poster with the message:





Despite what you may have been told, your sudden newfound support of feminism will do absolutely nothing to get you laid. Indeed, feminism has a long, bloody history of despising feminist men. They find them sexless, unarousing, and boring. BUT THEY WON’T TELL YOU THAT. They want your help, not YOU.

I love the “long, bloody history” part. It’s bloody to say no to sex?

The list includes writers, poets, intellectuals, editors, reporters and actors

Nov 1st, 2015 3:07 pm | By

AQ in India says it did it. Big surprise there.

The claim of responsibility by the division, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, was made in statements posted on Twitter on Saturday. One of them said the two men were “worse than the writers of such books, as they helped propagate these books and paid the blasphemers handsome amounts of money for writing them.” A second statement, titled “Who’s Next,” describes categories of people as “our next targets.” The list includes writers, poets, intellectuals, newspaper or magazine editors, reporters and actors.

It always does. That’s always who’s on the list – the people who influence thought and ideas.

As “hit lists” of secular writers circulate on the Internet, many writers and journalists have become hesitant to publish work that could attract the attention of Islamists, and a growing list of activists, fearing for their lives, have applied for asylum in Western countries.

Of course they have. What the murderers are doing works. They are scouring Bangladesh of secular voices.

Mr. Dipan’s business had published “The Virus of Faith,” the book that made Mr. Roy a target for militant groups.

Mr. Dipan’s father, Abul Quashem Fazlul Huq, said in an interview that after hearing about the attack on the first publisher, he became worried about his son and tried to reach him by phone. He went to his son’s business and, once the authorities had broken the lock, walked into his office, and saw he was not in his chair.

“I saw that his neck was cut,” he said. “The whole floor was covered with thick blood. I could not stand there anymore. I left the place.”

For decades, Bangladesh has struggled to contain a network of domestic militant cells, some of them linked to political opposition groups. They have regrouped this year, carrying out a series of killings, often in crowded spaces in broad daylight.

Over the last month, the attacks and threats have proliferated. A month ago, Western intelligence services received information suggesting that the Islamic State terrorist group had plans to ramp up its activities in Bangladesh. Shortly thereafter, two foreigners were shot.

On Monday, the Ansarullah Bangla Team, a homegrown terrorist group, sent a letter to a Bangladeshi cable news station threatening attacks on news outlets if they continued to allow unveiled women to report the news.

The week before there were bombs at a procession of Shiites, which killed a teenage boy.

Allah is merciful.


Nov 1st, 2015 2:11 pm | By

Well this is hilarious.

A friend pointed out a comment on a thread at Pharyngula discussing feminism.

It’s one thing to criticize an artist for racism or transphobia. It’s quite another for who knows how many people to create over 3 dozen blogs and use social media to target an individual without social, economic, or political power. That’s disproportionate to any offense she caused. This isn’t a case of thousands of people taking to Twitter to mock and excoriate someone like Pharmabro Martin Shrkeli. He is a public figure in a position of power with a lot of privilege and a distinct lack of empathy who’s actions could impact a great many people. Zamii is nothing like him. She doesn’t have his position, his influence, or his wealth. While she isn’t free from being criticized for racism or transphobia, the extent of the criticism against her was wildly out of proportionate to her actions. The people who bullied her went too far.


There’s more.

There’s a line between legitimately criticizing someone and contributing to a campaign of bullying and/or harassment. I don’t have an easy answer on how to find that line, but as I mentioned above, one important thing to keep in mind is the person you’re criticizing. Are you adding your voice to a chorus of people lambasting Donald Trump on Twitter for his vile racist or misogynistic comments or are you adding your voice to a chorus of people coming down on an individual with a blog and a level of power that is not remotely comparable?

Why is that hilarious?

Because it’s Tony the Queer Shoop.

The idea of innate gender is the foundation of patriarchy

Nov 1st, 2015 11:28 am | By

The comments on that post by Glosswitch are gold.

Like this one by Glosswitch:

You’re not listening. I’m saying I don’t identify with my assigned gender but this is not the same as identifying with another gender. Why is that so hard to understand? I’d have thought it was pretty fucking obvious. I have been forced into a gender I don’t identify with. So have most women who get dismissed as cis. It doesn’t mean we’re not women. If you’re fine with the cis definition – if you identify with the construct of inferiority bestowed on you at birth – then guess what? You’re really privileged, despite what you might feel about how you look. So as a privileged person, be quiet and listen to how others experience this.

One by channel light etc:

as GW suggests in her comments the issue is exactly this idea of ‘identifying with our gender’. We don’t. And to frame the issue in this is way is experienced as an erasure by non-trans women, who are then told that they can’t talk about this erasure because they are privileged by virtue of not being trans. No-one is denying that trans women’s struggle with their gender is very difficult for them. What we are asking for is a way of articulating this which doesn’t involve a terminology and a definition of that terminology, which relies on positing a mirror image of non-trans women’s experience as ‘not difficult’ – and moreover, doesn’t require us to accept a reified or essentialised concept of gender which we oppose.

And moreover, we are always being told that trans women have a right to define their relationship to gender themselves. That is true. But by invoking and defining cis in a certain way – they are also defining *our* relationship to gender. And we do not accept that non-trans women do not have right to draw boundaries about how they determine themselves.

It may be the case that we will have to arrive at an understanding of how we relate to gender which is different for each type of woman. I think that’s okay. It’s not necessary or just, and it’s very damaging for gender non-conforming non-trans women, to be forced to accept an account which is foisted on them to meet the needs of one set of women at the expense of others.

One by Rebecca R-C:

The level of body hatred that Glosswitch describes here is actually remarkably common. If you have managed to avoid it, then congratulations! But many, many women don’t. They aren’t especially feeble-minded or psychologically deviant. To suggest they are is to pathologise women’s minds, just as we pathologise their bodies, telling them the problem is always with them. “Hey, all you millions of women with low self-esteem and poor body-image! All you millions of women with eating disorders! There’s nothing wrong with our cultural norms about women’s appearance – you are just particularly psychologically disturbed!” It’s just another way of silencing women, by making them feel shame and humiliation at their normal, natural response to a set of oppressive social norms, and making them feel isolated and alone, so they don’t try to change it.

Another by channel light etc:

The idea that we’ve never needed the idea of innate gender before is possibly one of the most mind-blowingly ahistorical suggestions I have ever heard. The idea of innate gender has been and still is the foundation of patriarchy. It is the operative idea of the oppression of women. To think that’s it’s radical and edgy is to rewrite history into an account which corresponds most closely to an MRA paranoid fantasy about feminist gynocracy, as if feminism represents some kind of hegemony, and is the thing which is most responsible for the struggles of trans women. And this indeed, is exactly how TAs not infrequently behave (in for example the repeated – absurd – suggestion that gender critical feminism is in some way responsible for the men’s patriarchal violence against trans women).

Innate gender is deeply deeply conservative. We need to be able to at least talk about the fact that people are demanding we accept it.

That. That is why we are arguing. It’s not because transphobia or erasure or exclusion. It’s because this idea that gender is innate is deeply conservative. It’s because this forgetting that gender is a hierarchy is deeply conservative.

One more from Glosswitch. It’s quite wrenching, so prepare for that.

I honestly think if we took how cis women hate their bodies – and are told to hate their bodies, every single day – as seriously we we took gender dysphoria, we’d want to tear the whole world to pieces. Just because it’s seen as “normal” doesn’t make it any less deadly. I think there is a belief that the low-level “you don’t have the right body for a woman, you don’t look right, you need to change” message cis women hear all the time is a form of misogyny lite that doesn’t do harm on any deep, meaningful level, even if women are getting themselves sliced and diced and starving themselves to death. I don’t think you can tell from how a woman presents herself how much shit she has gone through to appear that way, or why, or the cultural pressures that surround her as an individual, or the abuse she’s suffered as a woman. You can only judge by what we can all see, which are the external pressures themselves, and I think we downplay them hugely because hey, it’s just cis women, those vain, frivolous, fluffy creatures, right?

Also Glosswitch:

I think the conclusion I am coming to is quite simple: no one has the right to impose a gender identity on another person. If an AFAB woman does not feel she has an innate gender identity – if she believes gender to be a construct – then it is wholly against this principle to demand she identify as cis, in the same way it would be wholly against this principle to tell a trans woman or man that they couldn’t identify as transgendered. If gender was not a cause of so much pain – and if our society was not utterly obsessed with a divisive gender binary – perhaps we’d be shrugging our shoulders and all agreeing this was fine. But right now AFAB non-cis women are being asked to compensate trans women for the pain they suffer by giving up their own right to self-definition and acting as a foil to authenticate trans identities. This is not fair and it doesn’t address transphobia in any way.

Neither trans nor cis. Thank you for your time.

We are human, something which gender itself does not recognise

Nov 1st, 2015 9:40 am | By

In a post from April 2014, Glosswitch says most women hate their bodies. I think that’s probably putting it too strongly…but Glosswitch likes the hyperbolic vein, and I do too, so I read her point as being that this self-hatred gets underestimated. (On the other hand, where would marketing be without it?)

When women like me shrink away, no one finds it strange. When we have our thighs sucked off, our breasts inflated, our cunts trimmed, we might find it an oddity – just about – but it will be positioned as personal choice. We don’t think of it as oppression. It is privilege and narcissism that makes us do it, a silly desire to be just like the women on the telly. The fact that we are susceptible to a mass of cultural influences telling us we should be bare, tiny and plastic is seen as weakness on our part.

Well, again, that’s hyperbole. I for instance certainly do think of it as oppression, and so do most of my friends, I should think…But then I’m a feminist and so are my friends.

In Redefining Realness Janet Mock defines cis as “a term used for people who are not trans and more likely to identify with the gender that correlates with the sex they were assigned at birth”:

Most cis people rarely question their gender identity because the gender binary system validates them, enabling them to operate without conflict or correction.

Glosswitch quotes that to dispute it, but let me just get in there first – that is such a wrong-headed and infuriating thing to say. The gender binary is a hierarchy, so no, it doesn’t “validate” “cis people,” it places them on a ladder that they didn’t ask to be placed on. And no it does not enable us to operate without conflict or correction; gender policing is absolutely ubiquitous.

Cis women – primped, primed cis women – are not believed to have a problematic relationship with gender, or if they do, it is seen to be of their own making. Because discomfort within one’s own body is so embedded since girlhood it is not remarked upon, which leads to the assumption that cis women do not even experience gender sufficiently to be able to critique it. This is of course bullshit. It is there with us every day of our lives. It constrains us. The idea that cis women don’t ask questions because they don’t have to – not because they are oppressed in ways others simply view as normality – betrays a shocking lack of empathy. Transitioning from male to female is no more a dramatic or meaningful expression of discomfort with one’s own gender identity than having one’s labia reshaped. Yet one is considered so extreme it must betray a deeper engagement with gender as a fundamental truth, while the other is seen as just some stupid thing cis women do.

I do think transitioning is more dramatic – and fraught with difficulty, danger, complications – than having one’s labia reshaped. I do think it’s a much bigger deal. But I do agree with Glosswitch that it does not signal “a deeper engagement with gender as a fundamental truth” and that many people talk as if it does.

That’s where the conflict is, I guess. Being trans is difficult and risky. Trans people need solidarity and inclusion. Yes and yes. But it doesn’t follow that trans people are the experts on gender.

All women are gender non-conformists, every single one of us. We have to be because we are human, something which gender itself does not recognise. We have to challenge the strictures of gender in order to assert our own personhood and we do so in different ways, in accordance with the conditions of our own lives.

We are human, something which gender itself does not recognise. Yes.

Celebrate the murder of women

Oct 31st, 2015 5:15 pm | By

Kate Smurthwaite at the Jack the Ripper “museum” protest today:

At Warwick

Oct 31st, 2015 4:59 pm | By

Maryam gave her talk at Warwick on Wednesday. The Student Rights blog reports:

Namazie’s visit to Warwick first gained media attention last month when the Student Union attempted to bar her from speaking on campus.

Thanks to a vocal campaign by Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists (WASH), which saw widespread media coverage, the ban was overturned.

The president of WASH, Benjamin Davids, welcomed a packed lecture hall to the event on Wednesday, before Namazie spoke about the need to challenge Islamist groups – stressing that too often these movements are wrongly conflated with Islam and Muslims.

I have friends in and around Coventry. They were probably there.

Student Rights also spoke to Davids, who said that:

Maryam’s talk sets an extraordinary precedent for freedom of speech. No idea is beyond question, no belief is beyond reproach and no non-violent narrative should be barred”.

Student Rights welcomes the fact that the student union at Warwick reversed their decision and that Namazie was able to speak on campus in an environment which promoted free expression and debate.

Yes. It’s absurd that they ever said no in the first place.

Feminism’s focus on women

Oct 31st, 2015 4:04 pm | By

Laurie Penny explains about feminism to a wondering world.

First of all there’s the subhead, which is probably not her doing, but it does rather set the tone.

Feminism’s focus on women can be alienating to queer people and anyone questioning the gender binary. But it doesn’t have to be.

“Feminism’s focus on women” – pause to savor that. How dare feminism focus on women? Other people have problems too ya know! And yet would BuzzFeed remark that anti-racism’s focus on people of color can be alienating? Would it fret that the labor movement focuses on labor?

I don’t think so. It’s only feminism that the libertarian left is so relentlessly eager to ostracize. It’s as if feminism has somehow morphed into an Eisenhower-era country club.

I’ve never felt quite like a woman, but I’ve never wanted to be a man, either. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be something in between. To quote Ruby Rose: I called myself a girl, but only because my options were limited. I always assumed that everyone felt that way.

But in school the other girls looked at her funny, so she assumed that only she felt that way.

Well I know how that goes, I was that girl, and yes I too felt like a weirdo, although less and less as we all grew older, because other girls were letting their inner weirdo out. But at any rate, that was school. Once I was out of school, I learned I wasn’t That Special. It’s very important to learn that you’re not That Special. By all means dissent, nonconform, be eccentric, but don’t think that makes you special, because it doesn’t. Very few people are all that special, and the odds that one is oneself one of those people are very slim.

It was around this time that I first read second-wave feminist Germaine Greer.

I really wish people would stop doing that. I really wish young lightweights would stop patronizing feminists who are older than they are by shoving them into the hospice labeled “Second Wave.”

According to Greer, liberation meant understanding that whatever you were in life, you were a woman first. Her writing helped me understand how society saw me — and every other female person I’d ever met. We were not human beings first: We were just girls. Looking back, though, that militant insistence on womanhood before everything is part of the reason it’s taken me a decade to admit that, in addition to being a feminist, I’m genderqueer. That I’m here to fight for women’s rights, that I play for the girls’ team, but I have never felt like much of a woman at all.

But that’s feminism. “A woman”=that subordinate person who had the bad taste not to be a man. Not feeling like that person, not accepting that subordination, that not feeling like such a person – that’s feminism. It’s not opposed to feminism or an addendum to feminism, it is feminism.

Only when we recognize that “manhood” and “womanhood” are made-up categories, invented to control human beings and violently imposed, can we truly understand the nature of sexism, of misogyny, of the way we are all worked over by gender in the end.

But, again, that’s feminism. It’s not exclusive to genderqueer feminism, it’s just feminism…or, at least, it’s just radical feminism. The more corporate kind of feminism wants barriers broken down but doesn’t want to ditch gender. And yet radical feminism is the kind that’s accused of being transphobic.

I don’t want to see a world without gender. I want to see a world where gender is not oppressive or enforced, where there are as many ways to express and perform and relate to your own identity as there are people on Earth. I want a world where gender is not painful, but joyful.

But until then, we’ve got this one. And for as long as we all have to navigate a gender binary that’s fundamentally broken and a sex class system that seeks to break us, I’m happy to be a gender traitor.

I’m a genderqueer woman, and a feminist.

Great. As far as I can tell, so am I. What’s all this about “second-wave” feminism again?

What appears to be a coordinated attack

Oct 31st, 2015 11:47 am | By

The IHEU has more details.

In what now appears to be a coordinated attack, at least one person has been killed and three people have been injured, in two attacks on publishing houses in Dhaka, Bangladesh this afternoon.

First, three men, all secular bloggers, one also a publisher and another also a poet, were attacked at Shuddho-Shor, a publishing house for progressive and secular books in the Lalmatia neighborhood of Dhaka. The attackers were armed with machetes and firearms, and it is likely the publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul, who had received direct death threats from Islamists unhappy with output, was the primary target. The six or so attackers appear to have tricked their way in representing themselves as book-buyers.

Second, this was followed by a further attack against Jagriti publishing house in the Shahbag neighborhood. The publisher Faysal Arefin Dipon is reported to have been killed. Jagriti publishes on a broad range of topics, and had published Avijit Roy’s Philosophy of Disbelief, first published by Shuddho-Shor.

Those attacked at Shuddho-Shor were rushed to hospital.  Tareq Rahim, the poet, is the most critically injured from the Shuddho-Shor attack, according to accounts from the hospital. The publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul may also be in critical condition. Ranadipam Basu posted to his Facebook immediately after the  attack, confirming he is alive and breaking the news.

And they have a photo of gut-wrenching relevance –

Ahmed Rashid Tutul (centre) at his publishing house book stall at the Dhaka International Book Fair, 26 February 2015. This is the night Avijit Roy (right) was murdered, and Roy's wife Rafida Ahmed (left) was seriously injured.

Ahmed Rashid Tutul (centre) at his publishing house book stall at the Dhaka International Book Fair, 26 February 2015. This is the night Avijit Roy (right) was murdered, and Roy’s wife Rafida Ahmed (left) was seriously injured.

The IHEU goes on:

Ahmed Rashid Tutul is the courageous publisher of books including the works of murdered author on science and Humanism, Avijit Roy. The publishing house, Shuddho-Shor (শুদ্ধস্বর‌), meaning “Pure Voice”, is popular among progressive, secular writers and readers, and has continued to publish despite receiving numerous direct threats against the lives of those working there.

On the night that Avijit Roy was murdered, Ahmed Rashid Tutul hosted a book publication ceremony with Avijit Roy and a number of others in front of the Shuddo-Shor stall at the annual book fair that takes place in Dhaka, Capital of Bangladesh.

Ahmed has been working on new books to be published at next year’s book fair, including a book on atheism.

As my friend Tasneem Khalil said to me on Twitter – And this WILL go on and on…

Oh no no no no

Oct 31st, 2015 11:17 am | By

The BBC reports terrible news from Bangladesh:

A Bangladeshi publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the capital Dhaka in the second attack of its kind on Saturday, police say.

Faisal Arefin Dipon, 43, was killed at his office in the city centre, hours after another publisher and two secular writers were injured in an attack.

They are the latest victims in a series of deadly attacks on secularists since blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death by suspected Islamists in February.

Both publishers published Roy’s work.

I can only swear and swear and swear.

Earlier on Saturday, armed men burst into the offices of publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul.

They stabbed Mr Tutul and two writers who were with him, locked them in an office and fled the scene, police said.

The three men were rushed to hospital, and at least one of them is in a critical condition.

The two writers were named by police as Ranadeep Basu and Tareque Rahim.

It’s a horror.