Guest post: This is the standard of argument we get

Originally a comment by latsot at Miscellany Room 3.

Have we done this one yet? So many of these things turn up in my labyrinthine feeds that I sometimes have trouble keeping track.

[Answer: no, we haven’t. I saw it last week and made a couple of attempts to read it but found it way too long for purpose as well as excruciatingly annoying so I turned my back on it.]

Anyway, as the URL suggests, the title is Dear Philosophers, You Can Trust the Feminist Consensus: Gender-Critical Radical Feminism is Bogus

It seems to be all over the place and since today I reached peak procrastination, I finally started to read it.

It’s written by a philosopher to philosophers. We know that because he inserts “dear philosophers” into every other paragraph. It’s also an excellent reason to ask “what is it with all these philosophers” and a house-bankrupting fallacy bingo card.

I won’t go into the fallacies here in any detail, they are far too tedious. But I feel compelled to convey the general dishonesty and I will paste the guy’s mission in writing the article. What’s that lesson we’re all supposed to learn about hubris, again?

First he has a droning preamble about how people might think gender critical people have a point and that we should be able to discuss this stuff in an adult fashion, all the time clumsily telling any of us foolish enough to believe that that we’re naive and wrong. He says he, too, once thought as common swine but lo he had an epiphany and now he’s superwoke. While he was reticent in the past about telling feminists how to feminism because he’s a man, now his post-epiphany status as a member of the wokinati means that he’s practically obliged to do it. He’s doing those misguided women a service, after all.

Then he picks three points we’ve all been talking about (it really doesn’t matter which ones) and says:

I’m going to try to show not just that these are wrong, but that they are baseless, rooted in some combination of conceptual confusion and factual error, and hold together as an ideology only because of the organising power of anxiety, confusion, or hostility to trans people.

Oh rilly? Anyone else here get the feeling that he’s going to completely misrepresent arguments and just say they’re wrong, possibly throwing out a few fallacy bombs in his shambling wake like a fugitive dropping scent bombs to confuse pursuing dogs?

Well spotted, but it’s hardly like we need a spidey-sense at this stage, is it?

Part 1: Do Trans People Reinforce Gender Stereotypes? (No)

Well, if the answer’s no, there’s no need to read further, obviously. But if you did you’d see that he picks an illustration of a point (gleefully from the gendercritical subreddit and claiming that means he – superwoke as is he – is incapable of bias)…. and then of course completely misrepresents it and staples strawmen (transstrawmen?) all over it.

He misrepresents the point of the image and then uses baited language to misrepresent the point of this part of the debate because he wouldn’t be sufficiently insufferable otherwise. The image is this one:

The idea that people transition in order to better fit gender stereotypes is, as best I can tell, just false.

And with that brilliant stroke of logic, that whole argument is bogus now and for all time and we shouldn’t even talk about it. Even though he is talking about it. Shut up, he’s superwoke and allowed and you are neither.

In case you’re worried about spoilers, don’t. He has pages and pages to say on the matter. I’m not an expert on fallacies, really, but he’s setting the bastards off like fireworks. He finishes – I can barely type this – with an appeal to his “dear philosophers” to use the tools of philosophy when discussing this issue, which – he insists – they are not allowed to do because he says so, citing “reasons”.

Part 2: Are People Being Pressured to Transition? (No)

He quotes a comedian (Robert Webb) saying that he was gender non-conforming as a child and that it would be wrong to tell children that because they were non-conforming they must be trans.

Philosopher-dude leaps on this using what seems to be his favourite word: “all”. He turns every argument everyone has ever made into absurdity by quoting a fairly reasonable and innocuous statement like that then saying “well, it’s just not true that all children are being told that!!!!!”

Nobody – not even Robert Webb – ever said anything of the sort. People – including Robert Webb – have said that it might be a bad idea and that’s pretty much it.

Part 3: Does Admitting Trans Women Make Women’s Spaces Less Safe? (No)

He understands the issue here, no doubt about it. He makes it very clear that he knows what the gender critical argument is. But…

Well first he says that “the most respectable” gender critical philosophers aren’t claiming that – his favourite word again – “all” trans women are predators, implying that anyone at all is saying they are.

And there are plenty of people out there making that crude and obviously transphobic argument!

Citation? Nope. He invents some scenarios about how sex segregation might work in bathrooms without ever seeming to understand that…. this already happens. It happens all the time. It has happened throughout all living memory without much difficulty. And to compound matters, he also invents a scenario in which women demand to see people’s ID before they are allowed to use the facilities and if the accused non-women refuse, they are assaulted by their accusers.

This is so transparently bullshit that it looks like satire, which is the very signature of this fallacious crap.

I’m too exhausted to talk about the conclusions and there are dozens of delicious fallacies you can hunt out for yourselves.

This is the standard of argument we get and everyone still rolls over. As Josh said recently, the trans movement has done zero work for this. The LGB and feminist movements did all that work and that’s where we live now. Arse.

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