Guest post: Vignettes of corporate capture

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? at Miscellany Room.

Vignettes of corporate capture; neighbourhood incursions.

Last week I recounted some of my feelings around a local Pride event. Here are some thoughts around neighbourhood examples of corporate Pride “celebrations.”

Our neighbourhood bank has its windows decorated for its nationwide Pride Month campaign, featuring the LGB rainbow + trans colours. One of the windows is filled with the slogan “Nothing beats the feeling of being accepted for who you really are.” That’s all well and good, but what they’re promoting, and enforcing through said promotion, is forcing everyone to accept a very small, specific subset of people for who they are not, to be precise, Trans Identified Males. They are not women. Never have been, never will be, because humans can’t change sex. Because they are male, and will always be male, they have no place in women’s spaces, women’s facilities, women’s positions. It is not hateful or bigoted to say these things, but through campaigns like this, they’re going to try to tell us it is. Their choice of colours and initiatives shows they are all-in with forced teaming.

The company’s Pride campaign web page features a number of stories and initiatives, all under a photo of a heavily made-up TiM, all under the ominous (and to me, frankly threatening) sub-heading “Recognize what was. Celebrate what is. Work for what should be.”

Pardon me if I distrust what their idea of “what should be.” With their slogan in favour of expecting us to accept people for who they are not, I’m not at all confident in the soundness or benevolence of their concept of “what should be.”

For some years our local grocery store has featured a Pride/Progress flag sticker with the caption “All are welcome.” Well why wouldn’t everyone feel welcome? Why do they have to advertise this fact? Apart from virtue signalling, I don’t see the point. Do trans people always, automatically assume they are unwelcome if such anodyne, placating assurances are not on prominent display in the establishments they frequent? Do they risk starving to death while searching for stores with the trans-parasitized pride colours in the window, sighing with relief that they and their money will not be turned away at the check-out?

I went to a local drugstore today, one that’s part of a nation-wide chain. The sales clerk, who was obviously female, wore an official company name tag that told me, helpfully, (Name) She/Her. Thanks, but I’d figured that out for myself. You didn’t need to tell me. More importantly you don’t get to tell me. So not really so much “helpful”, as “”pushy. She was in an official, company T-shirt inscribed with “Pride Vibes” in rainbow+ trans colours. She also wore a badge with the forced-teaming Pride/Progress colours that said “Ally.” So what? Who cares? Why am I being confronted with a bipedal political campaign while buying allergy meds and dental floss? What other political movement has Head Office promoted with such vigour? What about women’s rights? Remember them? Well kiss them goodbye. The company’s so-called Foundation for Women’s Health has the now inevitable, obviating qualification:

Supporting All Women

As part of our commitment, we recognize that the term “women’s health” is understood in a variety of ways. Our work goes beyond the sex and gender binary, welcoming the experiences of all women and gender-diverse people.

Some “commitment.” Some “understanding.” Your “variety” of “understanding” includes incorrect ones, wrong ones. But they are somehow “welcome”. And what does mean for women’s health? Nothing good. But look at the colourful t-shirts, name tags, and badges!

Some observations. (Not that any of these are new or earth-shatteringly original, but some of them are new to me. Or, they’re nagging suspicions that are now confirmed. Some are the reiteration of all-too-familiar truths. I’m figuring this stuff out as I go along, with the help of the readership here. Thank you all. Each bit of the puzzle adds a bit more to the whole, depressing picture. Preaching to the choir is not always pointless or redundant, as members of the choir do not spend their entire lives in church, but live and act in the wider world between sermons. Onwards!)

Trans activism, whether or not it ever was any kind of grassroots, bottom-up movement, is now a fully corporatized, top-down priority initiative, with power and money behind it. It is no threat to corporate practice and governance at all. Certainly not in the way that enacting women’s rights, or recognizing indigenous rights would effect how companies operated, and how much either of them would cost. If trans “rights” were in conflict with corporate interests, companies would be manning the ramparts to fight against them, not leading the charge to have them enacted and entrenched. Promoting and enforcing trans “rights” costs them nothing beyond the price of glossy publicity materials. Oh, and their credibility, and their reputations.

Campaigns like this de-politicize trans “rights” by pushing them safely beyond the reach of public scrutiny and debate’ while offering them support of powerful. influential allies who don’t have to answer to the electorate every few years. Not quite as big a prize as complete, unfettered access to the levers of government policy, but a coup nonetheless. There are fewer hearts and minds to win over, and direct input to corporate policy and practice once they are won. The corporate image might suffer (though this is something activists aren’t going to care about as long as they get what they want), and companies are better able to push through and back against opposition and plow on with the “Pride” agenda, which centers trans activism. If public boycotts ensue, that’s not the concern of the activists. For the companies, it might be a different matter, but resistance that hurts the bottom line takes more effort and organization than opposition through electoral politics, where there is always the potential for a party to take up a cause and run with it, if it thinks it will have the potential to win them votes. Consumer boycotts will always take more work and organization to identify and consolidate others who oppose the corporate pushing of the trans agenda.

As the T is in no way “oppressed” or “marginalized”, the point of these campaigns is not to “uplift” or “include” them, but to empower them. Not in the kind of “self-actualizing” way that women are supposedly “empowered” by sex work, but in the way that allows them to take what they want and to control other people’s lives. Real power, like that which corporations have. Pride events and campaigns are less about “celebrating” than they are about normalizing the impossible, and enforcing that normalization by marginalizing and discrediting any resistance to it.

I once likened the “transified” Pride flag to the banner of a hostile, occupying power. Well, that banner flies in more places than ever, with companies retooling their own identities with “Pride” colours. But this isn’t the celebration of a marginalized, downtrodden “community”, but the ownership (by a tiny, opportunistic, and manipulative minority) of the living space and mental imagination of a much larger, silenced and disempowered community.

The occupiers are, in reality, a very tiny force, but the presence of their colours everywhere and on everything gives the impression of much larger numbers, boldly pretending to wield a higher degree of public support than it actually has. Salute, and repeat after us: “We’re ALL on Big, Happy, Pride Family.” And while all those colours are supposed to be festive and fun, they hide a darker subtext; the iron fist concealed in the velvet, rainbow glove, or a tank painted in sparkles and glitter. They are a call for compliance and obedience printed on the packaging of the products and services we buy, and in the places of business that offer them to us. Our passive acceptance of this repetitive messaging, the ever present display of trans power and influence is intended to wear us down and dull our defiance. “Who am I in the face of all of these rainbow flags? I am isolated and alone, surrounded by the colours of command and control wherever I look. They are everywhere. I can’t hide. I can’t run away. I can’t escape them. They have won.”

All those signs, badges and stickers are not-so-subtle cues that criticism and pushback of trans ideology are not welcome. They are not an invitation to the poor, huddling trans folk on the verge of being genocided, they are a warning to potential critics to watch our mouths and keep our doubts to ourselves. They are an “invitation” to “Be Kind: OR ELSE.” To put it in their own terms, we are being told up front that the space we are about to enter is Officially Unsafe. You are entering occupied territory. This place is not yours, but OURS.

In debates about who is allowed into women’s facilities under the control of a captured company, a woman who might want to complain is being told exactly whose side the corporation is on. Her battle is to be considered lost before the first shot is fired. The T has won, this is their territory. All the flags and bunting are happy, cheerful gang colours, proclaiming victory, control and jurisdiction, all with corporate blessing. Trans activism has already lifted its leg and pissed on everything in sight. Be KInd and shut the fuck up, because nobody will hear you.

3 Responses to “Guest post: Vignettes of corporate capture”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting