Alas poor philosophy

Philosopher Jennifer Saul jumps on the “bash Suzanne Moore train:

Suzanne Moore, a columnist at the Guardian, says she identifies as “a woman who won’t go down quietly.” But to many, she’s a trans-exclusionary radical feminist — a TERF. Some say TERF is a slur. It isn’t. But it is a misleading term for anti-trans activists like Moore.

So Suzanne Moore doesn’t get to identify as a woman who won’t go quietly, but men do get to identify as women. Moore is to be doubted and called names, but men who say they are women are to be shielded from those nasty women (like Moore for instance) at all costs. Meet the new feminism, the opposite of the old.

Over the past year, disputes between two groups of people, both calling themselves feminists, have erupted on the internet and off — and drawn considerable interest even outside feminism. These disputes concern the status of some of the most discriminated against and marginalized women: trans women.

But they’re not some of the most discriminated against and marginalized women, because they’re not women at all. However difficult their lives may be, however much bullying they face from gender-policing men, they are still men, and they don’t get to claim to be some of the most discriminated against and marginalized women. They don’t get to grab what we are and wrap themselves in it, any more than white people get to grab blackness and wrap ourselves in it. The categories are not up for grabs; they’re not there for the taking by anyone who feels like it.

I’m a scholar not only of feminism but also of language, and I currently work on the use of language to foment hatred. (I’ve also done a lot of work to try to improve things for women in philosophy.) Battles over terms like TERF and woman are central to my work.

I wonder if she works at all on the use of language about “TERFs” to foment hatred against women. From the rest of what she says here I’m guessing she doesn’t – I’m guessing it’s all about “TERFs” fomenting hatred.

So-called TERFs think the term is inaccurate too, but for a different reason: they insist that they’re not trans-exclusionary because they include trans men in the category of women. This is technically accurate on a very literal-minded understanding of what it is to be trans-exclusionary. However, including people against their will in a category that they reject is not what is normally meant by inclusion.

Oh. But it’s ok to call gender critical feminists “TERFs” even though it’s a category that we reject. How does that work exactly?

I hesitate to attach the label feminist to any view that is committed to worsening the situation of some of the most marginalized women.

But they’re not women. However marginalized they are, they’re not women. Also, gender critical feminists are not committed to worsening their situation – that’s a pretty disgusting accusation.

This crap isn’t philosophy, it’s just rhetoric, and sloppy abusive rhetoric at that.

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