Just imagine

I saw this.


So I followed the link and skim-read Justin Weinberg’s “won’t somebody please think of the trans women” piece. I was not overwhelmed by the reasoning therein. I was annoyed by bêtises like the one Jane points out. There are lots of them. The whole thing is written from the assumption that on the one hand there are cis people, lolling about on fluffy pillows of privilege, and on the other there are trans people, battling oppression and exclusion of a kind that we cis people can’t even begin to imagine.

For instance, right at the beginning:

Understanding t philosopher

Remember t philosopher? That’s the one who wrote that Medium piece full of hyperbolic self-pity and zero awareness of anyone else’s experiences with exclusion and oppression.

Reader, what do you do when you are confronted with the anguish of another person? I hope it is at least this: you try to understand. Sometimes it may be easy to understand, but sometimes, owing to qualities of the person suffering, or the kind of person you are and experiences you’ve had, or the circumstances you’re in, it may not be easy. You may not identify with their suffering, you may be puzzled by its depth, you may be put out by its expression, you may think it involves mistakes—but before responding in ways that don’t take someone’s suffering as seriously as the person undergoing it, you should try to understand it.

See? There it is already – the bizarre assumption that all of us reading are immune from exclusion, prejudice, mockery, insult, abuse – from, in fact, any kind of anguish.

There is also the now-familiar credulity, and not just credulity but insistence that we must all be credulous too. It apparently doesn’t even cross his mind that the “anguish” might be pumped up for effect, might be a political ploy, might be part of a larger picture of hyperbolic anguish that is brandished at women as a way to make them stop talking.

He goes on.

Do you love philosophy? Do you feel at home in this work? Do you think you wouldn’t be as fulfilled if you had a different kind of career? Many readers of Daily Nous will answer “yes” to these questions. This means that many readers will know where t philosopher is starting from.

Now imagine that when you take part in activities other professional philosophers do, unlike most of those other professional philosophers, you are made to feel quite bad. Yes, some philosophers may feel bad because they don’t think their work meets their own standards, or because of criticism by others, or because of stress to get work done, but this is different. It’s not about your work; rather, you are being made to feel bad—really bad—because of a characteristic of yours such as your race, or gender, or sexuality, or ethnicity, etc. In fact, it is so horrible that it is interfering with your mental and emotional well-being. Further, it is so unlike what most of your colleagues experience that most of them don’t understand it, and so fail to take it seriously, or think less of you for complaining about it, which of course makes it even worse. And now, unlike most other philosophers, you have to choose between doing what you love and preserving a minimally decent level of mental and emotional health.

Yes, imagine that, except many women and people of color don’t need to “imagine”; they know what it’s like from experience.

It’s as Jane says. He really doesn’t have the first fucking clue.

Updating to add a comment on Justin Weinberg’s post:

Also, trans-exclusive feminists complaining about violent messages and images clearly are not experts in the history of feminism or are willfully ignorant of the use of violent images in the history of women’s liberation. Trans women using violent imagery to promote their own liberation is only within the same historical millieu of all their feminist foremothers. Whining about “abuse” etc is just obfuscatory bad faith sophistry on the part of the trans-exclusive and used to engender sympathy from a public that is less plugged in to the discourse.

I’m so glad I’m not plugged in to that discourse.

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