Are we allowed to talk about the constructedness of gender?

Kathleen Stock posted some comments, with permission and without names attached, to her two articles on sex, gender, and philosophy. They hold no surprises for anyone who has been following how these discussions go. Disciplines are named.

I really don’t have a settled view on any of the many issues here, but the lack of conversation and the hounding and bullying of anyone who expresses a thought (not even opinion!) that isn’t popular . . . all that is depressing and distressing. Predictably enough, I won’t be saying any of that in a public post, because I’m a precariously employed person and a lot of folk who might make significant decisions about my future career prospects have very strong opinions. A little cowardly, but also prudent, sadly. (Philosophy)

And to make it even more disgusting, it’s not a matter of disagreeing over rights or equality or how people should be treated – it’s a matter of bullying people into denying reality. Nobody I know of is arguing that trans people should be persecuted or denied rights. It’s not a “right” to demand that the world believe and echo personal claims that defy obvious reality. The crime is simply seeing trans women as trans women instead of seeing trans women as women – and it’s a deeply bizarre situation when that can be seen as a crime.

The whole thing makes me despair. I genuinely worry I can no longer tell first year students gender is a made up social construct. I just try to use sex where relevant not gender, and correct it in essays, and hope I don’t get into trouble.. last year I was doing gender with first years, and getting them to think about the constructedness of gender etc — and I asked ‘if we had a few years where, for example, the well-behaved girls in primary school weren’t seated next to the challenging boys to ‘socialise’ them, and where women weren’t told by strangers in the street to smile, and knowing a fetus was female didn’t mean a pink ‘gender reveal’ and everything that goes with it…. do you think as many people would feel they were in the wrong body, if your body only meant a) you can get pregnant or b) you can impregnate, and no other signifiers?’ And, genuinely, they went quiet and one of them said ‘I’m really confused now because I thought there was only one way to think about this, but there isn’t’. (English)

There isn’t, but there might as well be.

The whole thing strikes me as just old-fashioned misogyny presented as something new and worthy. Which I think might even make it more pernicious. If the interests of one group clash with the interests of another on some issue, it is usually accepted that we need to take both kinds of interests seriously in debate about how to resolve the clash. But in this case, even entertaining the hypothesis that the interests of (non-trans) women might be negatively affected by some of the proposals that are being put forward is routinely taken to be off-limits. Let alone taking those interests seriously. (e.g. everyone conveniently forgetting that there were ever any arguments for having women-only spaces). What an effective tool for oppression — make it verboten to even entertain the question of how women’s interests might be affected!

There’s something peculiarly sneaky (and peculiarly insulting) about the fact that the tool that’s being used to oppress women in this case is right-on-ness. Like the view is that it’s because we really ought to be caring and considerate and aware of how bad it is to oppress people that women should shut the f*** up and stop getting in the way of what other people want. (Philosophy)

There was a tweet I saw this morning


I utterly reject the colonisation of women’s space by TERFs and call upon our cis allies to do the same. Women’s space belongs to all women, cis and trans. TERFs have no right to plant their flag on it and start remaking it in their own image like some sort of gender gentrifiers.

A man who “identifies as” a woman accusing feminist women of the “colonisation” of women’s space. You couldn’t make it up.

There are more comments. They are of interest.

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