Notes and Comment Blog

A damning indictment on our anti-refugee sentiment

Sep 14th, 2015 4:49 pm | By

Maajid also defended Charlie Hebdo against new accusations of “Islamophobia” in a public Facebook post:

New Charlie Hebdo cartoons about Aylan Kurdi are causing online “Islamophobia” outrage:

Fellow Muslims, please, if you don’t get satire just *ask* someone before assuming an intelligent left-wing satirical magazine isn’t … satire.

Taste is always in the eye of the beholder. But these cartoons are a damning indictment on our anti-refugee sentiment.

The McDonald’s image is a searing critique of heartless European consumerism in the face of one of the worst human tragedies of our times.

The image about Christians walking on water while Muslims drown is (so obviously) critiquing hypocritical European Christian “love”.

Fellow Muslims, not everything and everyone are against us, every time. But if we keep assuming they are by reacting like this, they will surely become so.

Maajid linked to an article by Aziz Allilou in Morocco World News:

Eight months after the terroristic attack that hit its headquarters in Paris in January, the French satirical magazine is back to the spotlight with a new controversial set of cartoons.

Hiding behind the freedom of speech, Charilie Hebdo made fun of the death of Aylan Kurdi, who was found dead recently on a Turkish beach, in two offensive drawings.

No no no no, Charlie Hebdo did not make fun of Aylan Kurdi’s death, it mocked (to excoriate) the priorities of well-fed Europeans.

first drawing

Welcome to refugees!

So close to the goal…

On the sign: Promo! 2 kids’ meals for the price of one.

I can see thinking it’s not cool to use a cartoon of Aylan Kurdi to make the point, but I have a hard time understand anyone thinking the cartoon is mocking him. It’s a very raw joke; it’s not one I would make; but it’s not a joke at Aylan Kurdi’s expense.

Twitter pratfall

Sep 14th, 2015 4:27 pm | By

Maajid Nawaz has been extracting the Michael from Max Blumenthal on Twitter:

maajid nawaz ‏@MaajidNawaz Sep 13
maajid nawaz retweeted Max Blumenthal
A non-Muslim regressive-lefty calling me (a Muslim) an Islamophobe. But… isn’t that ‘cultural appropriation’?

Max Blumenthal ‏@MaxBlumenthal
.@HarvardIOP is hosting two of the most belligerent Islamophobes for a panel on “Islam & the future of tolerance”

Embedded image permalink

Seriously. What is Max Blumenthal doing calling Maajid Nawaz – who is a Muslim! – an “Islamophobe”? Maajid is a liberal critic of reactionary Islamists; that hardly makes him a hater of Islam. Does Blumenthal think the only authentic Muslim is a murderous (male) reactionary misogynist theocrat? If so, he’s much more of an Islam-hater than Maajid is.

So much in common

Sep 14th, 2015 3:18 pm | By

Via Scott Benson (no relation) on Twitter:

Embedded image permalink

Quite striking, isn’t it.


The entitlement of the rich and famous

Sep 14th, 2015 12:17 pm | By

Malibu. The beach. Millionaires’ McMansions built directly ON the beach. Millionaires trying to convince everyone that they own the beach.

Many celebrities and multimillionaires own sprawling Malibu homes overlooking the Pacific, including actors Robert Redford and Angelina Jolie, the rapper Dr Dre, the director Rob Reiner and media mogul David Geffen. In an effort to protect their privacy, some homeowners have now taken matters into their own hands by employing security guards to patrol the sands in front of their houses.

Twice in the past few weeks, members of the public have been asked to leave Malibu’s Escondido Beach by a uniformed security guard who wrongly claimed they were on private property and threatened them with a fine for trespassing.

So members of the public should start asking the uniformed security guards to leave the beach, and calling the cops if they refuse to comply.

“There’s 27 miles of beach in Malibu – it’s one of the few public spaces we have in LA County – and out of those 27, 20 are blocked by private development,” says Jenny Price, an environmental writer and co-creator of a popular app which tells the public how to access specific beaches. “Those 20 miles have for decades been treated as a private riviera … It’s the most egregious example of privatisation of public land in Los Angeles.”

People do that here too. There’s a park in Alki in West Seattle that runs along the beach for miles and then abruptly hits a sign saying private property past this point DO NOT PUT A TOE HERE. But it’s beach – I don’t think they can own the beach, any more than they can own Puget Sound.

The state’s earliest laws dictate that the area between the water line and the mean high tide line is public land. To put it simply: wet sand equals public beach. In theory, anyone could walk the 1,100 miles of California’s coast and never set foot on private property.

Of late, however, wealthy homeowners have taken to erecting their own “No trespassing” signs and putting out traffic cones to discourage people from parking their cars. The hiring of private security guards is the newest skirmish in a long-running battle.

It’s like the battle over footpaths in the UK, and before that, the enclosure of the commons. It’s also like the battle over cattle grazing on public land here in the US.

According to Price, the problem stems from the City of Malibu’s disinclination to stand up to homeowners. Price recently sent a folder of photographic evidence to the council detailing illegal no-parking signs along the Malibu coastal roads.

“They said, ‘Oh no, those are on private property. We can’t do anything about them. We consider them requests.’ These are signs that say the vehicle will be towed! … What you’re seeing in Malibu is the wealthy and powerful who have the money to fight [for their interests].”

And the sense of entitlement to proceed.

Geffen’s mansion is notorious locally for having a set of fake garage doors painted on to a patch of wall adjoining the road. When Aaron Crow, a 42-year-old software engineer, parked his car in this spot last month, he was given a $53 ticket for obstructing access – despite there being no official parking restrictions in place and, ultimately, no garage in place for which access was required. He is now contesting the ticket.

But Price says the situation is slowly getting better. The 1976 Coastal Act codified common-law public access and is more frequently enforced now that the public are increasingly aware of what is happening. In July, following a decade-long legal fight, a public walkway opened up giving access to a 1.5-mile stretch of sand known as “Billionaire’s Beach”.

Geffen had spent years fighting against the path, which had been promised by the previous owners in 1983 in exchange for planning permission. Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has even suggested staging a Sand Aid concert to continue the fight for beach access. “It’s about taking back the beach,” Lopez wrote in a recent article, “no matter how expensive the legal fight may be.”

Malibu for the people!

No Fire Zone

Sep 14th, 2015 11:42 am | By

Human Rights Watch says Malaysia should not be prosecuting Lena Hendry for privately showing a documentary film.

Malaysia’s Federal Court will hear Lena Hendry’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Film Censorship Act on September 14, 2015.

Hendry, a staff member of the human rights group Pusat KOMAS, was charged under the act for organizing a private screening of the award-winning documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka,” on July 3, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to RM30,000 (US$7,000).

“Prosecuting someone for the private showing of an award-winning film shows how determined Malaysian authorities are to stomp on the right to free expression,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The government should call off its intensifying assault on free expression and promptly amend the Film Censorship Act.”

Lena Hendry
Pusat KOMAS staff member Lena Hendry. © Lena Hendry

Section 6 of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Act, under which Hendry is being prosecuted, prohibits the “circulation, distribution, display, production, sale, hire” or “possession” of any film, whether imported or domestically produced, without first obtaining approval from the government-appointed Board of Censors. The law defines “film” very broadly – and could potentially be applied to home videos or videos taken on a smartphone. Should the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest, rule against Hendry, her case will proceed to trial.

So in Malaysia no one can show any film without government permission? That’s…limiting.

To date, the Film Censorship Act has been seldom invoked and Pusat KOMAS regularly screens films on politics, human rights, culture, and other issues without censorship board approval, with admission by pre-registration only. The charges against Hendry appear to have been primarily motivated by the Malaysian government’s desire to appease Sri Lankan embassy officials, who had publicly demanded that the film not be shown and visited the venue, the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, on the day of the film’s showing to urge the venue’s managers to cancel the event. “No Fire Zone” concerns war crimes committed in the last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war, including Sri Lankan army artillery attacks that indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians and the extrajudicial executions of captured fighters and supporters of the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The authorities’ politically motivated prosecution of Hendry is contrary to internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. The imposition of criminal penalties for choosing to possess or show a film that the government has not previously approved is not necessary to protect national security, public order, public morals, or the rights and reputations of others, and imposes a disproportionate burden on a fundamental right.

Even when it’s done to appease Sri Lankan embassy officials.


If members of the Kansas government feel the need for spiritual solace

Sep 14th, 2015 10:10 am | By

Rob Boston at Americans United reports on theocracy in Kansas.

Suppose you have a job at a private company. Suppose some of your colleagues do a bible study thing in their lunch hour. You and your friends have a secular sandwich together and all’s well. (Unless the bible studiers are hogging the break room.)

But then suppose it’s the boss who suggested the bible study, and the boss attends regularly. Hmm. Could the boss be using attendance as points toward promotions and raises? All’s not entirely well then.

Now suppose it’s not a private company, but a government office. Major problem.

A scenario like this is playing out in Kansas, a state that has been experimenting with a sort of de facto“faith-based” government under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Courtney Canfield, a business-filing specialist at the Secretary of State’s Office, says she was fired in 2013 because she declined to attend a Christian service that was heavily promoted by Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker.

Canfield’s complaint alleges that the Secretary of State’s Office routinely invited employees to attend services conducted by Dave DePue, a minister who acts as a sort of “unofficial pastor” to Kansas lawmakers and officials, reported the Wichita Eagle.

See, that’s not cool, even without the firing. That’s embarrassingly theocratic.

“These invitations were distributed during normal business hours and included a ‘prayer guide’ to be utilized at that week’s service,” Canfield’s lawsuit reads. “Despite the repeated invitations, Plaintiff never attended such a service. While Plaintiff was a Methodist, she did not regularly attend church services or otherwise practice any particular religious beliefs in any way.”

And you know what? That’s none of her boss’s business. Her boss has state power, therefore he has no business pushing anyone to attend “services” of any kind.

All of this could have been avoided if officials in Kansas spent more time doing their jobs and less time worrying about the spiritual lives of their employees.

A good first step would be to send that “unofficial” chaplain packing. The capital of Kansas is Topeka, and the city and its surrounding metropolitan area have a population of about 234,000. There appears to be no shortage of houses of worship there.

If members of the Kansas government feel the need for spiritual solace, let them avail themselves of one of those.

If they can’t stand to work for eight or nine hours without refreshing church services mixed in, they should get jobs in those houses of worship instead of the state government.

To slander feminists so that their arguments can be ignored

Sep 13th, 2015 5:37 pm | By

Meghan Murphy last June: The sex industry’s attack on feminists.

Pornographers have long defended the products and practices of their extremely profitable industry as “free speech,” even as they sexualize male power and violence against women. Similarly, defenders of prostitution, which they strategically call “sex work,” frame the movement for its legalization and normalization as liberatory.

But they don’t want free speech for their critics. Last March

a number of prostitution lobby groups threatened to boycott a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, that had secured the renowned journalist and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges as a keynote speaker. Because Hedges had written an articlecalling prostitution “the quintessential expression of global capitalism,” these groups attempted to no-platform Hedges and would have succeeded in their efforts if not for an impassioned responsefrom local women’s groups.

Pornographers went after Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin in the 90s, too.

In order to appeal to well-meaning progressives, a “sex-worker rights” movement was invented to oppose those feminists who believed prostitution to be an extension and perpetuation of male power and violence. The prostitution lobby adopted the language of the labor movement in order to advocate for men’s rights to open brothels and buy sex from women, and it also adopted the language of the feminist movement to frame prostitution as a woman’s choice.

They have the media on their side, as well as the pimps and johns. The capitalist interests of mainstream media mean that pornography and prostitution are presented simply as business ventures, and their patriarchal foundations mean that the idea of women’s bodies as consumable objects is accepted as the norm.

So all women are seen as objects for consumption, either good ones if they’re gorgeous and hot, or bad ones if they’re ugly and cold. In neither case are they people with their own plans and ideas.

While manipulative language designed to appeal to the liberal masses is a huge part of advocacy to decriminalize pimps and johns, another key component is the smearing of feminists who challenge this discourse.

Industry advocates will stop at nothing to silence the voices of those who speak out against their interests. Labeled as prudes, religious conservatives, oppressors and bigots, the war against these feminists has recently culminated in widespread efforts to no-platform dissenters.

When the Swedish journalist Kajsa Ekis Ekman was scheduled to speak in London last year about her book “Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self,” the bookstore hosting the event was threatened with boycotts.

Was she labeled a SWERF? I’d be amazed if not.

The current climate in “Anglo-Saxon feminism” is one that supports witch hunts, Ekman told me. Such a witch hunt begins with “smear campaigns, appears to be coming ‘from below,’ and calls famous feminists power-crazed, elitist, ‘cis-sexist,’ racist and ‘whorephobic,’ ” she said. “It then proceeds to full-blown silencing campaigns, boycott threats, petitions, isolation of anyone who sides with the feminist and guilt by association.”

We’ve seen that happening. Repeatedly.

Prostitution survivors face silencing tactics as well. Bridget Perrier, a First Nations educator and co-founder of the Toronto-based sex-trade survivors and abolition group Sextrade101, said the efforts of the pro-prostitution lobby are focused on invalidating the experiences of women who have left the industry. Their stories are often called into question.

Rachel Moran survived seven years in the sex trade in Ireland and has published a book about her experiences, addressing many of the myths and lies perpetuated by the sex-work lobby. For her crime—speaking the truth—she has been subjected to endless harassment, accused more than once of inventing her story.

“I have been defamed, slandered, threatened, physically confronted and screamed at,” Moran told me. “I’ve had my home address, bank details and personal email circulated amongst some of the most seemingly unhinged people, who have tweeted me portions of my home address in a clear we-know-where-to-find-you style threat.”

This is the world we live in now.

The denial of truths that would hurt efforts to present a sanitized version of the sex industry aimed at selling prostitution as “simply a job like any other” is key to the campaign for its legalization.

Moran told me she was shocked at the lack of compassion exhibited toward her by sex-industry advocates who claim to have a vested interest in women’s safety. “They simply do not give a damn that they are constructing a deliberate and organized bullying campaign against a woman who was ritualistically sexually abused by adult males since she was 15 years old,” she said. “My truths do not suit them, so my truths must be silenced.”

And Murphy gets the treatment too.

In desperation, unable and unwilling to respond to basic feminist, socialist arguments against the sex industry—namely, that it exists on a foundation of male power and capitalism, perpetuating misogynist notions about male “needs” and women’s bodies as the things that exist to satisfy these socialized desires—these lobby groups resort to lies and slander.

These groups try to pass smear campaigns off as “critique,” but they are anything but, Ekman, the Swedish journalist, said. “What is going on now is not critique. Rather, it resembles a full-scale Maoist cultural revolution.”

“If you are a prominent feminist, you won’t escape this,” she continued. “If you haven’t been targeted yet, you either will be or you’re not dangerous enough.”

I have been writing about the sex industry and prostitution legislation in Canada for years now. The attacks on my character and work have been relentless. In recent weeks, a number of Canadian sex-industry lobby groups mounted a major smear campaign online, framing arguments against the objectification, exploitation and abuse of women as “bigotry” and willfully distorting my work and views beyond all recognition.

The nonsensical and baseless accusations hurled at me—“transphobic,” “whorephobic,” racist and so on—replicate those used against all women who challenge the status quo in this way. The intention is not justice, but to slander feminists so that their arguments can be ignored and dismissed and in order to bully others into doing the same.

And, in this looking-glass world, people who think they’re ardent progressives join the bullying.

In her essay “Liberalism and the Death of Feminism,” MacKinnon wrote that “once there was a feminist movement”—a movement that understood that criticizing practices like rape, incest, prostitution and abuse was not the same as criticizing the victims of these practices. “It was a movement that knew [that] when material conditions preclude 99 percent of your options, it is not meaningful to call the remaining one per cent—what you are doing—your choice.” She wrote these words 25 years ago, and we are still fighting the same battles. Now, to speak out against patriarchal systems means your livelihood will be threatened, as well as your credibility and your freedom to speak.

You cannot claim to be progressive but advocate against democracy. You cannot claim to be feminist but support the silencing of women. This new McCarthyism will not liberate us. It offers us up to those who work toward our demise.

Oh well, we’ll always have the Kardashians.

Have you looked at our badges lately?

Sep 13th, 2015 4:38 pm | By

Are we the baddies?

Update: try this one. H/t Bernard.



Sep 13th, 2015 12:07 pm | By


She lost herself

Sep 13th, 2015 11:45 am | By

Irin Carmon reviews Paid For, by Rachel Moran.

Moran started selling herself on the streets of Dublin when she was fifteen.

Moran’s seven years in the sex trade, the main subject of her book, convinced her it is never compatible with consent and always tantamount to abuse. “The summation of my experience of prostitution was simply this: I lost myself,” she writes. She warns that “Paid For”  “will not read in the style of a traditional memoir,” but its arc is familiar: troubled parents, state custody and homelessness, an older boyfriend who suggested she walk the streets, hitting rock bottom, getting out with a new purpose.

So, clearly, she’s not of the “sex work is empowering” school.

“Paid For” was previously published in Ireland, where Moran helped persuade legislators to adopt the Nordic model for the sex trade, which criminalizes buyers of sex and treats sellers as exploited victims. Such a system is distinct from the full decriminalization model now advocated by Amnesty International, a move Moran has campaigned against. It differs, too, from legalization as attempted in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, which involves active state regulation, and from the full criminalization practiced in the United States (except for parts of ­Nevada), which offers the worst of all worlds, with the brunt falling on the most vulnerable. By treating people in the sex trade as automatic victims who require state intervention, the Nordic model has been criticized by some sex workers as the legislative equivalent of those teenage girls beating up Moran for her own good.

This fierce debate — like any policy dispute, concerning ends as much as means, values as much as evidence, pitting people who call themselves feminists against one another — lingers under the surface of “Paid For.” It is why the book reads as an argument with interlocutors who are rarely named, giving it the feel of a very long subtweet. Moran attacks from multiple directions what she argues are prevailing myths about sex work: that working indoors is safer; that some forms of sex work are “classier” than others; that selling sex can be empowering; the existence of a “happy hooker.” The biggest lie of all, she says, is that women can choose to be in prostitution. “A woman’s compliance in prostitution is a response to circumstances beyond her control,” Moran writes, “and this produces an environment which prohibits even the possibility of true consent.”

But that claim is falsified by the existence of thousands of rich women who choose to be in prostitution.

Or not.

An-Naim hopes that the situation will gradually improve

Sep 13th, 2015 11:15 am | By

What is Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim’s view of Sharia? A piece by Cem Say from 2006 explores the subject.

Islamic law, the Sharia, has a bad reputation – especially in the West, but also among many secular Muslims. It stands for the oppression of women, contempt for human rights, and backwardness. Abdullah An-Naim, Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, USA and anything but a fundamentalist, understands the concept of Sharia quite differently. Sharia, he says, is positive and has a future.

According to An-Naim, the legal doctrines of the Sharia in their original form, which go back to the seventh century, are simply incompatible with the realities of life in the 21st century.

Yes. So then why hang on to the Sharia? Why change the substance but keep the name? Why not just move on?

Sudanese-born An-Naim is strictly against the concept of an Islamic state as currently practiced in Iran and Afghanistan. It contradicts Islamic tradition, he claims.

An-Naim, therefore, supports secularism, in which a neutral state makes the laws for all citizens, while leaving enough room for them to lead their lives according to the rules of their own religion. A Muslim businessman, for instance, could thereby conduct his business without charging interest – even when the state doesn’t prohibit interest in general.

But that’s an easy example. Why choose the easy example to illustrate the point when it’s the hard ones that make the point so very dubious? Never mind charging interest or not charging interest, what about inheritance laws that allot women half? What about laws on “adultery”? What about stoning? What about rape and the requirement for four male witnesses? What about allowing up to four wives for men but no more than one husband for women?

Abdullah An-Naim was first introduced to these ideas as a 22-year-old law student in his native Sudan. At the time, he was a follower of the Islamic reform movement under Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. In 1986, after Taha was executed for his divergent views, An-Naim left his country as a political refugee.

Since then, he has continued to work in the USA on developing Taha’s theories – “without implicating anyone in Sudan,” he is quick to add, as the Islamic reform movement is still heavily persecuted in the African country. Adhering to such views could result in the death penalty, although An-Naim hopes that the situation will gradually improve. He does not feel isolated in his ideas and even finds support within the Islamic world.

Reform is good. Will the new center for the study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale be about reform and reformists? When the funding comes from a Saudi tycoon? I don’t know, but it seems unlikely.

Cash for Sharia

Sep 12th, 2015 6:04 pm | By

The Yale Daily News:

Abdallah Kamel, chief executive of a banking and real estate company based in Saudi Arabia, donated $10 million to the Yale Law School to create a center for the study of Islamic Law and Civilization, YLS Dean Robert Post and University President Peter Salovey announced Thursday.

Why does Yale Law School want a a center for the study of Islamic Law? I could see a history or sociology department being interested in that, but why a law school? Does Yale teach Christian law?

Also…based in Saudi Arabia. I don’t consider Saudi Arabia a very useful paradigm for the study of law. They behead people for “insulting Islam.” They want to give Raif Badawi 1000 lashes for “insulting Islam.”

Also…Saudi Arabia has been lavishing oil money in secular democracies to set up Wahhabi madrassas which will churn out a new generation of Islamist fanatics. Has Yale looked under the cover at all?

Maybe Abdallah Kamel is an anomaly in Saudia Arabia, a liberal secular intellectual with an open mind. Except if he were that, why would he be funding a center for Islamic law? Religious law is not a good and benign thing, it’s something to fear.

NBC News has more:

For two decades, Harvard Law School has had its own Islamic legal studies program, established with support from the Saudi king.

Abdullahi An-Na’im, who teaches Islamic law at Emory Law School, said he considers the Islamic legal studies program at Harvard a disappointment because few faculty members took an interest and it has been treated as an isolated entity at the law school. He said it remains to be seen how seriously the Yale faculty will take Islamic law as a field of human jurisprudence.

It’s a field of theocratic jurisprudence. Secular democracies have secular law, not religious law. History departments and political science departments have an interest in religious systems of law, but it’s not clear to me why a secular law school should.

Kronman said Yale aims to have the best program of its kind in the United States, if not the world, and one objective is to ensure the center’s work is integrated into the life of the law school.

Islamic law, or Shariah, carries weight in the legal code of most Muslim countries. Movements to expand its influence, including in areas of the West, have been controversial in part because some interpretations have been used to justify intolerance and harsh punishments.

Kronman said Islamic law is all the more deserving of intellectual attention because many people have views of the subject that are not very well informed.

“It’s the responsibility of universities to teach and instruct and that obligation applies with particular force where an issue or a subject tends to be viewed in an incomplete or inadequate or even caricatured way,” Kronman said. “There the responsibility to teach and enlighten is even stronger.”

So Sharia is actually a completely benign system of laws? Then why is Saudi Arabia the way it is?

Have some arithmogender

Sep 12th, 2015 4:59 pm | By

There’s a Nonbinary Wiki.

There are many kinds of nonbinary gender identities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Agender people find that they have no inner sense of their gender identity. That is, they have no gender.
  • Androgynes are a mix of female and male.
  • Aporagender is separate from female, male, or anything in between, and isn’t an absence of gender. The basic definition of maverique is similar.
  • Butch and boi are queermasculine genders, which some use as nonbinary identities. The same is true for a queer feminine gender, femme.
  • Demigender identities, such as the partly female demigirl, and the partly male demiboy.
  • Genderfluid people have different gender identities at different times.
  • Genderqueer is a non-normative gender identity or expression. This can be an umbrella term, or a specific identity.
  • Intergender people have a gender identity in between female and male, and were born with intersexbodies.
  • Multigender people have more than one gender identity, either at the same time, or sometimes changing between them. Bigender people have two genders.
  • Neutrois is often a transsexual identity, and usually means a gender neither female nor male, but neutral.
  • Xenogender includes many nonbinary gender identities defined in reference to very different ideas than female or male.
  • Transgender is an umbrella term for all genders that go beyond society’s ideas of gender, which includes some kinds of binary gender people. However, some call their gender identity simply “transgender,” as a nonbinary identity itself.
  • Nonbinary is an umbrella term for all who don’t identify as just female or male. Though there are many kinds of nonbinary gender identities, some people identify as “nonbinary” only.

Is it true that transgender is an umbrella term for all genders that go beyond society’s ideas of gender? I ask because I thought it was a term for people who are binary but identify as the gender they were not assigned at birth. The two aren’t the same.

At any rate, xenogender sounds interesting, so let’s check it out.

Xenogender (coined by Baaphomett in 2014,[1] from xeno alien + “gender”) is a nonbinarygender identity “that cannot be contained by human understandings of gender; more concerned with crafting other methods of gender categorization and hierarchy such as those relating to animals, plants, or other creatures/things.”[2] Xenogender isn’t defined in relation to “female” or “male” (the binary genders), but by other kinds of ideas that most people don’t think of as having to do with gender. When people talk about nonbinary gender, they often find that there aren’t any words for their experiences. This is called a lexical gap. In order to fill a lexical gap, this wiki takes up “xenogender” as an umbrella term for an entire category of nonbinary genders that are defined by characteristics with no relation whatsoever to “female” or “male.”

If there’s no relation whatsoever to “female” or “male” then it’s not gender they’re talking about. Gender isn’t just another word for personality or interests or style.

Because a gender binary society doesn’t give much in the way of roles or descriptions for nonbinary genders, some transgender and gender nonconforming people address the challenge of describing their unusual gender identities by creative methods, referring to concepts that aren’t usually seen as related to gender.

But why do they have to be gender identities at all? When they’re not?

These creative methods of describing nonbinary genders come naturally to many nonbinary people. As such, these are an emerging part of nonbinary culture, worthy of exploration and examination. Some common themes of these concepts:

Nouns and archetypes. Some nonbinary people find it easier to perceive or describe their inner sense of their gender identity by evoking familiar archetypes. Instead of giving references to how their gender relates to maleness and femaleness, they say their gender is– or is like– a kind of animal, an imaginary being, a part of nature, an abstract concept, or a symbol. Some people have made names for some of these kinds of noungenders, such as arithmogender, faunagender, and gendersea (see below).

Buuuuuuuut that’s not gender, it’s something else. By all means describe yourself in metaphors involving animals, imaginary beings, parts of nature, abstractions, symbols, and anything else you like, but why call it gender? Why not just call it “I’m like _____”?

There’s a list, along with a credit for the person who coined the item on the list.

abimegender. From “Old French – related to ‘abyss'; from Latin a- ‘without’ byssos ‘bottom’. Having a gender which is profound, deep, and infinite.”[4] Keywords: size, shape, space, synaesthesia

aesthetgender. Coined by curiosityismysin. “A gender experience that is derived from, or the embodiment of, an aesthetic.”[5] Keywords: abstract concepts, symbols

archaicgender. Coined by irredeemablegoety. “A gender that stretches far beyond one’s own age or lifetime. The vast-age of this gender has allowed it to grow far beyond whatever size/presence one would expect, or perhaps to shrink down and almost be forgotten.”[6] Synonyms: archaigender, historiagender. Keywords: time

archaigender. Coined by completelynormalscientist. “A gender that is ancient/old and big, and can either only be described with those words, or is correlated to them. Can be changed into archaiboy/girl/nonbinary/other.”[7] Synonyms: archaicgender, historiagender. Keywords: time

arithmogender. Coined by furryhell. “A number gender. It can range from any number/s, positive, negative, decimals, fractions, etc. gender can be replaced with xirl, fluid, girl, boi, nb, nonbinary, boy, enby, etc.”[8] Keywords: abstract concepts, symbols

But “arithmo” isn’t a gender. Math isn’t a gender. None of this is gender.

cosmicgender. Coined by dragon-friker. “A gender so vast and complex that you are only able to process a small bit of it at a time. like viewing the night sky through a telescope you cannot hope to see all of it at once however you may gain more knowledge about parts of it the longer you focus on one part. may contain any number of sub genders within it that may present themselves to you. it is infinite in its possibility. Name from the vast reaches of space filled with things we canot begin to imagine.”[13]Keywords: size, change, space

Now the person who has that gender is really special. Cosmic, man.

digigender. Coined by furryhell. “A digital gender. it can range from any digital thing or file; virus, malware, .txt, .mp3, anti-virus, trojan, email, etc. gender can be replaced with girl, xirl, nonbinary, nb, enby, fluid, boy, boi, etc.”[15] Keywords: abstract concepts, technology, symbols




freezegender. Coined by asperdemigirl in 2014. “Similar to frostgender [which is cold and snowy], but it also encompasses other genders as well. such as a freezegirl experiencing both a cold and snowy gender but also being a female, for example.”[20] Syn. wintgender, wintegender. Keywords: nature,demigender, temperature, season, synaesthesia

frostgender. Coined by asperdemigirl in 2014. “A gender which is cold and very snowy.”[21] Keywords: temperature, nature, season, synaesthesia

This must be a joke. Except I know the people who chew their knuckles over this stuff are deadly serious – hey that could be a gender too: waytooseriousgender. It’s not a joke, it’s a kind of narcissism that is so vast and complex that you are only able to process a small bit of it at a time. like viewing the night sky through a telescope you cannot hope to see all of it at once.

jupitergender. Coined by anonymous. “When your gender is so large and present, you’re not quite sure what it is because it’s too big to see clearly but it is definitely there and you know you’re definitely not cis.”[29] Keywords: size, monogender, questioning, space

Oh well obviously. Of course you’re not cis.

You know, I keep saying I’m not cis, and people keep saying that makes me transphobic – but so why can nonbinary people say their gender is so large and present, they’re not quite sure what it is because it’s too big to see clearly but it is definitely there and they know they’re definitely not cis?

I’m genuinely baffled by that.

Not “mainstream” at all

Sep 12th, 2015 12:42 pm | By

Let’s take a little hop back in time, back to February 2006, when the BBC reported on a rally against cartoons about Mohammed.

About 5,000 UK mainstream Muslims joined a protest in London’s Trafalgar Square against controversial cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Oh dear god, they were so clueless. Or deceptive. That “protest” was not “mainstream” – the BBC was ridiculous to call it that, and also insulting to Muslims as a group.

Protesters waved banners calling for unity against Islamophobia.

The event aimed to explain the views of moderate Muslims towards cartoons published in a Danish newspaper which led to worldwide protests.

Organisers also said it wanted to dissociate the mainstream Muslim community from a “minority of extremists”.

And the BBC nodded solemnly and believed every word.

No. People who take to the streets because a newspaper in another country published some anodyne cartoons are not “the mainstream community” and they’re not “moderate.”

Coach-loads of demonstrators arrived at the rally called United Against Incitement and Islamophobia, which got off to a peaceful start at about 1340 GMT on Saturday.

Police said the total turnout was about 5,000, a figure endorsed by a spokesman from the Muslim Council of Britain.

Among them was Hanifa Brka, a 29-year-old student from Birmingham, who said: “This is the heart of our faith – we believe it is wrong to talk badly about the prophet.”

That’s not a moderate view. It’s not moderate to say that all people have to obey the strictures of one’s own religion.

But the reason I saw this news item and the reason I’m sharing it is this part:

A series of speakers gathered to support the Muslim community, including MP Jeremy Corbyn.

In his speech, which was met with cheers from the crowd, he said: “The only way our community can survive is by showing mutual respect to each other.

“We demand that people show respect for each other’s community, each other’s faith and each other’s religion.”

It’s not mutual respect to demand that people shut up about religion.

The event was organised by the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, with the backing of a number of Christian groups, peace organisations and the Mayor of London.

Two Islamist groups, the second a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

That’s Corbyn.

Bad news.

Our power lies in organization

Sep 12th, 2015 11:57 am | By

The Industrial Workers of the World, aka the Wobblies, had the power fist back in the teens of the 20th century.

Image result for iww one big union


Image result for iww one big union

See what they did there?

Image result for iww fist

Image result for iww fist

It’s not appropriation for any left-wing movement to use the fist. What would be appropriation would be for right-wing movements to use it, or for WalMart or CocaCola to use it for advertising, as I’m sure they have.

The men look like everybody else

Sep 12th, 2015 11:42 am | By

Were you wondering about Kim Davis’s fashion choices and religious affiliation? Sojourners provides some background.

Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk jailed for five days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, identifies as an Apostolic Christian and attends Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, Ky.

What’s an Apostolic Christian?

Pentecostalism is a Christian movement that emphasizes a personal experience of God, including the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The movement grew out of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in California and takes its name from Pentecost, when early Christians first received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the ability to heal and prophesy.

Apostolic Pentecostals then split from the rest of the movement in 1916 over a disagreement about the nature of the Trinity.

Does any of that matter? No.

Q: OK, well, what’s with the long hair and skirts?

A: Apostolic Pentecostals are the strictest of all the Pentecostal groups, according to Synan. Like most Pentecostals, they do not use alcohol or tobacco. They generally don’t watch TV or movies either. Women who are Apostolic Pentecostals also wear long dresses, and they don’t cut their hair or wear makeup. It’s called “external holiness,” he said, and it’s meant to separate its followers from the rest of the world in the way they look and act — although, he noted, men who are Apostolic Pentecostals look “like everybody else.”

That’s familiar. The men can wear jeans and T shirts, but the women have to dress like some kind of parody Pioneer Lady Trudging Through The Plains. Jesus said so.

And the same-sex marriage thing?

The general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, the largest and most influential Apostolic Pentecostal denomination, issued a statement earlier this year in response to the Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriages. In his statement, he defines God’s plan for marriage as “the union of one man and one woman who make a lifelong commitment,” and encourages Christians to “defend the freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion.”

In other words, it’s Some Guy. It’s not baby Jesus, it’s not the bible, it’s Some Guy.

And because Some Guy issued a statement, a county clerk thinks she gets to ignore a Supreme Court ruling. It makes me tired.

Naming the waves

Sep 12th, 2015 11:08 am | By

A reader has been asking me about the second and third waves of feminism, and my energetic agreement with Meghan Murphy’s rebuke of knee-jerk disdain for the second wave. The reader was wondering about my insistence that the third wave did not invent intersectionality, because he had read in many places that it had – that is, that 2 wave just didn’t know from intersectionality until 3 wave came along.

Nope. 2 wave was aware of the issue of being too white and middle class all along. There were huge arguments and splits over the issue all along. There were huge arguments over lesbians’ place in the movement all along.

That’s not to say that 2 wave was brilliant at it or that it got nothing wrong, it’s just to say that it wasn’t clueless about it, and it didn’t have to wait for 1980 or 2010 to realize that race and class matter. (It was a bit slow on the sexual orientation part – it was weirdly squicked by lesbians.)

So this primer on intersectionality from Routledge seems off the mark to me.

Second-wave feminism is associated with the women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. While seeing themselves as inheritors of the politics of the first wave which focused primarily on legal obstacles to women’s rights, second-wave feminists began concentrating on less “official” barriers to gender equality, addressing issues like sexuality, reproductive rights, women’s roles and labor in the home, and patriarchal culture. Finally, what is called third-wave feminism is generally associated with feminist politics and movements that began in the 1980s and continue on to today. Third-wave feminism emerged out of a critique of the politics of the second wave, as many feminists felt that earlier generations had over-generalized the experiences of white, middle-class, heterosexual women and ignored (and even suppressed) the viewpoints of women of color, the poor, gay, lesbian, and transgender people, and women from the non-Western world. Third-wave feminists have critiqued essential or universal notions of womanhood, and focus on issues of racism, homophobia, and Eurocentrism as part of their feminist agenda.

Ennnnnnnh…yes and no. Yes some 2 wavers ignored all those viewpoints, but not all did, and the issue was much discussed. These things are cumulative, so feminism does a better job of it now, but there’s no reason to assume that 2 wave feminists just suddenly froze solid in 1980 while everyone else progressed. Guess what: 2 wave feminists are part of 3 wave feminism, too. There was no break in between. There was a break of sorts between 1 and 2, but not between 2 and 3. Feminism never went underground between 2 and 3 the way it did during the 30s and 40s and 50s, so 2 and 3 are basically the same movement.

Feminist social theory has influenced and been influenced by the agendas and struggles of each of these waves. “First-wave” theorists like Mary Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony were influential for their focus on how women’s lack of legal rights contributed to their social demotion, exclusion, and suffering. “Second-wave” theorists like Betty Friedan and Andrea Dworkin were prominent for their focus on women’s sexuality, reproduction, and the social consequences of living in a patriarchal culture. And “third-wave” theorists like Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak are significant for critiquing the idea of a universal experience of womanhood and drawing attention to the sexually, economically, and racially excluded.

If you’re lumping Betty Friedan and Andrea Dworkin together as essentially similar theorists, you’re doing something wrong.

Guest post: There is no impunity for mass murder

Sep 12th, 2015 9:31 am | By

Guest post by Mary Scully. Originally a public post on Facebook, reposted here by permission.

These people are carrying coffins with the remains of some of the 45,000 people “disappeared” during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war between 1960 and 1996. Successive right-wing governments led by former generals directly implicated in the disappearances and murders of 200,000 indigenous Mayans have rebuffed political pressure to exhume and identify those murdered and dumped in mass graves. Exhumations have been going on since 1996 but as of two years ago, less than 1,000 skeletons had been recovered.

Photo by James Rodriguez

All were killed by soldiers and allied paramilitaries trying to wipe out a guerrilla movement using scorched earth military tactics that swept up everyone in its path–not just students, trade union and political activists, but women out shopping for food, children walking to school, people working in fields. According to forensic anthropologists leading the exhumations, victims were often buried with blindfolds, with hands and feet bound, had broken bones, and were often naked. Interrogation at military bases included rape, torture, extrajudicial execution, and secret burial often right near the bases. Many were hurled from helicopters into the sea or volcanic craters.

Because successive presidents of Guatemala have been the generals directly involved in executing the scorched earth civil war, there has been no justice. Former president Efrain Rios Montt was prosecuted in 2013 and has essentially walked on the charges. President Otto Pérez Molina just resigned and was arrested not for his role in genocide but for customs fraud and bribery.

The exhumation process is a gruesome one because the skeletons of most are piled in mass graves and are not identifiable so DNA testing must be done for grieving family members to properly bury and honor their beloved. Most of the clandestine cemeteries are on still active military bases–some which fly the UN flag and where in fact Guatemalan military and police officials stationed there wear the distinctive blue helmet of the UN. Many of the bases of course–then and now–are operated by US military officials and bankrolled by the Pentagon.

Family members continue to demand justice. There’s a political accounting to be made here and exposing the political use of mass disappearance is part of the process of bringing all the guilty parties to justice and of course of exposing and prosecuting all who were involved–including within the UN and Pentagon. There is no impunity for mass murder. As the family members and human rights activists in Guatemala chant, “No Amnesty, No Pardon.”

Suddenly, a naval vessel appeared in the distance

Sep 11th, 2015 6:08 pm | By

Intersectional 5th wave non-appropriative inclusive postcolonialist genderfuck Lord of the Flies, by Joe Keohane in The New Yorker.

“Excuse me,” Roger began, “remind us again why you get to interrupt us even if you don’t have the conch?”

“Because I’m the chief,” Ralph said. “I was chosen.”

“By whom?”

“By you.”

“I didn’t vote for you,” Roger said, with a frown.

“We had a vote. The majority rules.”

“Oh, that’s brilliant—the majority,” Jack scoffed. The littluns tittered. “If anything, that means you have even less of a right to interrupt than we do!” Jack faced the others. “If you agree with me, wiggle your fingers.”

They wiggled their fingers.

“Look, I’m trying to get us rescued by the grownups,” Ralph said, gesturing toward a plane that had been circling the island for some time, and now seemed to be flying away.

“You are speaking from a position of privilege,” Jack said, “so you have no right to criticize us or tell us what to do.”

“Uh-uh,” Piggy interjected. “My auntie is a constitutional-law professor at Staffordshire. She says that … ”

Oops. I doubt they have constitutional law professors in the UK, on account of not having a constitution.

Suddenly, a naval vessel appeared in the distance. A dinghy dropped into the sea; a small team of sailors climbed into it and paddled toward the island. The boys regarded them warily as they landed on the beach.

“Are you the boys who need to be rescued?” an officer shouted.

“Why is he screaming at us?” Percival cried. “I feel very unsafe!”

“Some of us identify as gender-questioning,” Jack called back to the officer. “And we reject your Eurocentric imposition of the jungle-rescue narrative.”

“No, please! Save us!” Ralph yelled, rushing to the officer. “Save us!”

“Er, see, here’s the thing,” the officer said, backing away. “I’m going to have to radio back to my supervisors to make sure I’m following the proper protocols for dealing with self-identified indigenous populations before I can do anything.”

They stared at him. He shrugged. “Or else we’ll just get killed on Twitter.”

So off they sailed, and all the boys got eaten.

H/t Stewart

It’s not cool and fun and sexy

Sep 11th, 2015 5:40 pm | By

Meghan Murphy has a sockdolager of a piece explaining that no feminism isn’t anything and everything but rather is something particular and substantive, so no you’re not a feminist just because you wear stilettos or have a platinum card. She offers 9 items that actually do make you a feminist, a better feminist than people who lack them.

First is being a woman.

There are male feminists of course, and since we need all the feminists we can get, maybe especially among men, I think it’s important to emphasize that, but her point is that men don’t fully get the female experience.

2) Understanding that feminism is not a feeling or an identity, but a political movement

And a set of ideas and claims.

If you think that objectifying women or street harassment or male entitlement or gender stereotypes or sexualizing violence against women is good and ok, you aren’t a feminist. Taking a selfie orgetting married or wearing stilettos or making a bunch of money does not equate to feminism (yet feminists are allowed to do these things! See how that works?) because feminism isn’t about you as an individual feeling personally “good” or empowered in the moment. You can feel empowered, but that doesn’t necessary produce feminism. Similarly, feeling “good” [does] not equate to empowerment. Empowerment, in the context of feminism, means social empowerment for a group of marginalized people (in this case, women). This is why, for example, posing nude and feeling sexy in a fashion or porn magazine might feel good for the individual doing it (they will receive positive reinforcement, feel attractive, profit financially, etc.) but does not constitute “empowerment” as it does not lift up women as a class.

Number 3, stop being anti-intellectual.

There is no activism without ideology. Ideology is the body of ideas that frames a political movement. We need that, otherwise how the fuck do we know what we’re doing? (What’s that? We’re just taking selfies and shouting intersectionality at each other on Twitter? Good then. Fuck ideology. Fuck movements. Fuck yeah.)

That. That’s why I abruptly jumped off the train between stops. I’m not interested in a politics that’s all formulas – check your privilege! intent isn’t magic! my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit! – and no thought. Formulas are ok for some limited purposes, but that’s all. Shouting intersectionality at each other on Twitter doesn’t cut it.

4 is about that too.

5) Not being ageist

At what point did ageism become acceptable in feminism? Oh right. The third wave… Ok, so we understand that rebellious teenagers want to “Your not my real mom!” *slams door* their elders, but we are not rebellious teenagers. We are adults. And if you are a feminist it is unacceptable to make “second wave” an insult. That is some woman-hating, anti-feminist, ageist garbage and if you want to pull that shit, congratulations, you’re doing patriarchy. Keep your ignorance and keep perpetuating sexist notions that women who are no longer youthful are silly, old-fashioned, prudish fuddy-duddies, clutching their pearls all the way to the old folks home, where they can stick to Bingo, but know that you’re no feminist. Older movement women know more than you do and we aren’t going anywhere without them.

Cough cough cough.

There are a lot of “feminists” out there who decidedly do make “second wave” an insult – usually while shouting something that second wavers originated 45 years ago. We’re not your mommies, we’re not Miss Marple, we’re not old dears with bundles of knitting. Get a fucking clue.

6) Not accusing feminists of hating sex and men like it’s a bad thing

Women are allowed to hate men and sex. Hating men and sex is perfectly natural. Men and sex with men has been a source of trauma for countless women, over centuries. It is also perfectly natural to love particular men and to enjoy having sex. None of these realities are things that should be used by feminists to insult, attack, or dismiss other feminists. By accusing feminists who challenge male violence of “hating sex” or “hating men” you are reinforcing heteronormative garbage and feeding into stereotypes that say feminists are just angry because they aren’t getting fucked enough. These tropes are connected to rape culture — it is the idea that men can fuck women into passivity or fuck them straight. It is the idea that only fuckable women are “real” women. It is the idea that women need men in order to be whole beings and to matter — that they only exist in relation to men. These are anti-feminist ideas.

And 7, 8, 9, too. Read it all, then read it again.