Category Archives: Radical feminism

Kes Sparhawk on WHAT IS A WOMAN?

WHAT IS A WOMAN? A non-essentialist view (response to my gender crit friends)

Imagine, if you will, that on a world far from Earth, there are a series of islands. On each of these lives a different tribe which, owing to various factors, are at peace with each other. They use outriggers for trade, and make alliance when dangerous strangers show too much interest in their land and its possible uses, and once a year there is a great gathering at the central island to feast, exchange the results of their arts, and look for likely mates. Because this is a peaceful area, there are no rules about mating except what the individuals make for themselves. One or two outlying islands have some taboos about certain people marrying each other – they’re focused intensely on building a sparse population – but the result since these taboos have been made is to actually slightly go down in population. Several members have chosen to move to other islands with their mates. The rumor is that this tribe will be modifying their rules soon. None of the others much care; it’s none of their business. Those who wish to leave will be welcomed.

To these islands one day comes a wooden boat; large enough to survive the swelling seas as long as there are no typhoons. This one has achieved it. There are only two crew members on the ship; one a member of the Mahalo tribe, and the other a most peculiar looking person, with pasty skin and hair on their chest. The returning Mahalo explains that this is how people look on the other side of the world, and this person has been a good friend – helping steer the ship safely home. The friend, called Bundi, has not enjoyed life in that other nation, and was glad to leave.

As has been true many places on Earth, Bundi is viewed with some suspicion at first. Strangers have seldom come with goodwill. On the other hand, neither have they come singly, with a friend to vouch for them. Bundi is quite good with making ropes stronger than most; it’s in the knotting. Slowly, Bundi becomes familiar; not like the rest of them in appearance, but striving to learn the language and the customs and to be trustworthy. After a time, the Old Ones of the Mahalo declare Bundi welcome, and a member.

As is customary, Bundi comes with them to the Great Gathering. There is some suspicion there. A few people object. Bundi meekly stays among the accepting Mahalo. Over the years, people come to accept Bundi as one of them; but because some still are hesitant, having been invaded the most recently, the tribes decide that Bundi should not come to the gathering. A few friends stay with Bundi every year to have a party of their own. On their island, Bundi belongs. But it would be wrong to push others to accept what they do not wish to accept. When strangers can be enemies, why destroy the pleasures of the Great Gathering? There are alternatives. Because Bundi is an outsider for most of them, Bundi accepts these rules.

A few grumble that Bundi should not live among them, that the hairy ones will always be enemies. But they’re told off pretty quickly. It’s none of their business. They don’t have to come to the island where Bundi lives with the tribe. Since these complainers are usually the hardest to get along with, the consensus is that they’re welcome to come to the great gatherings and otherwise live with their own, rather unfriendly tribe anyway. No one will force them; they cannot decide for others who is welcome.

The moral of the story, if there is one, can only be that groups have the right to choose their own members, on any criterion they prefer. If Bundi had shown hostility, probably fewer would have been welcoming. Nonetheless, Bundi became a member of the tribe once the Old Ones decided. In other tribes, it might have been by consensus. In others yet, the lack of discussion would have been the decision. Just as no one intervenes with tribal decisions, so no other tribe would have had a say about who was a member of Mahalo.

    How Power and Oppression Work

When considering trans people, I think the first consensus radical and socialist feminists need to come to is that different groups have different needs. Each has the right of association. Others have every right to condemn with whom they associate, even distrusting the decisions of the group, but the base must be what the group does; how it makes decisions, how it lives its life.

When groups come together to fight oppression – and as I’ll discuss, women are oppressed and need to come together – they can decide if they wish to include certain groups for any reason. They may not like their politics, they may not trust them to stay nonviolent, they may decide that only people born to the oppressed class should participate for whatever reason. Whatever the reason, the fundamental right to justice is to decide whom to trust, and at whose side you will fight.

People raised in the oppressed group – no matter how badly they felt they did not fit in – have a responsibility to accept this. If, as a group, one side has more power and control, the endangered group has the right to make rules for their safety. No member of an oppressor group can judge this unless they are given permission to judge.

Trans “women” have ignored this rule from the beginning. As a result, the likelihood of permission is far lower than it otherwise would be. When a group declares the oppressed group’s feelings irrelevant, offers no compromise, and uses physical and emotional manipulation to get their way, they are demonstrating ill will. When they use the power of the state to back them, they are underlining their intention of having their way over another, less powerful group. Add to that more economic resources for the group, more propaganda while blocking the voices of the other, and it’s pretty clear that the ones raised as oppressors have, despite verbally rejecting their privilege, cling to it despite the result to the lives and rights of others – rights they try to remove, including the right to a livelihood and the right to speak.

In short, to say trans women are women begs the most elemental of questions: can oppressors by fiat join an oppressed class? Can white people who grew up members of a colonizing population simply declare one day that they are not white? Can the ablebodied buy a wheelchair and claim membership among the disabled? Can those who learn sign language, but who are not deaf, join a community which only speaks by sign language and considers itself a community? Can the wealthy, while not giving up their wealth, declare themselves by goodwill members of the working class? And if they do give it up, do they then have full presumption to speak for the workers, despite the fact they learned a different way of speaking, body language, arts and scientific study?

When women ask such questions, others dismiss them, saying that the cases are not parallel for whatever reason. By tacitly accepting that some marginalized people have the right to make their own definition of who belongs with them, and explicitly making clear that women are not among those marginalized people, one belief becomes very clear: as far as other groups are concerned, women, as a class, are not oppressed, and are not Other. Fifty years of analysis, the development of an understanding of patriarchy, the demonstration that no matter how privileged at other intersections some women are they can’t buy out of the assumption that their body is the entitlement of men, mean nothing. The result is an absolute denial that women have the right to defend themselves if others decide to invade. Women are not given the right of naming their own oppression. When they try to do so, they are attacked. We are again living in the 1950s.

    How Women Developed Women’s Liberation and Lost It Again

Now, part of this comes from the rise of identity politics through the civil rights movement. Both the first and second waves arose out of civil rights movements primarily focused on color and ethnicity. What gets hidden in that narrative is that women of color, like their white sisters, began to notice that they were not equal in their own movements. They began, more and more, to define themselves.

Since whites were a majority in Western countries, it was easy for white women to focus primarily on issues which affected them. Since middle class white women – the ones privileged to go to college – had the leisure to go to meetings and spend weekends at protests, they had the additional privilege of standing up without fear of anything more than harassment, threats, and some physical violence. (Please note that they were subject to that, especially lesbians, who were viewed as an embarrassing deviation by the left; gay rights was rejected by every left-leaning group I knew in 1970 or so.) Only radical feminist groups stood up for the right to choose one’s sexual partner, as a logical extension of the right to control one’s own body.

The third wave has largely made this reality invisible, but it made a huge difference, since not all lesbians were white. The second wave was in fact arguably more mixed in their push for women’s rights because of the extreme marginalization of lesbians of color in their own communities. Adding to their invisibility was their determination to continue loyalties with the rest of their people – so their silencing began in struggles within groups of color, where women had little say, but much to say. At the same time, they were attracted to women’s liberation, because it spoke to them in ways their male-dominated culture did not. But white women, who coming out of the civil rights movement had commitment but coming out of white culture had limited knowledge, often needed more educated than women of color had energy for.

The betrayal of this struggle is best illustrated by the “inventor” of the third wave, Rebecca Walker. Rebecca was the daughter of Alice Walker, one of the most notable Black feminists of the second wave, and a white father. She wrote dismissively of the failures of the second wave to care about black women, even though her mother spent most of her life as a black feminist. Alice Walker for the rest of her life wrote painfully about her daughter, trying to understand how they had become estranged. Rebecca became a well-known “third wave” feminist by using her mother’s fame to be published in a second wave publication (Ms) and gaining a writer’s contract. In other words, she used the resources her parents had acquired and the credibility of her mother to attack her. And since, the failure to understand that women of color were involved in the women’s struggle from the beginning, despite error and unconscious racism, has been used to dismiss feminists as feminist, labeling them as “white” and therefore oppressor class only (no intersections for women!) is Rebecca Walker’s legacy to identity politics.

    How Postmodern Theory contributed to the Destruction of Women’s Liberation

The history of the feminist movement has not been fully told. When Women Studies shifted to Gender Studies, the material base of feminism was lost. Queer theorists are not feminists, coming mostly out of the embrace of postmodernism, a literary theory without a material base. Postmodernism is influenced the most by textual critics who argue that the texts themselves are what imprison people; that changing the texts will therefore liberate them.

This is the precise opposite of Marxist theory, and goes against most radical feminist theory. These groups can be described as materialist progressives. Those dependent on postmodernism are not; they are liberals, committed to language and ideas as the source of status quo and change as all liberals are, just as their predecessors in feudal times were committed to God as the source of the status quo and change. Materialists/progressives ascribe oppression and liberation to changes in the material conditions of life. One does not “enact” oppression; one attacks it with physical resistance and economic change. And one analyzes it via power: who has control? For whose benefit do most laws exist? What do educational systems perpetuate? What do majority religions value? If there are contradictions to overall power, do they operate to overthrow or to teach acceptance?

To “enact” reality is to assume that material conditions are not the base of power. As such, the theory is embraced by people who have achieved economic and state power, or see it in their grasp, and wish to keep it. Academics, for example, can obtain great status with a theory whose actual fundamentals require careful study to find what’s missing; a theory which celebrates obscurity by its own definition of erasing master narratives as a way to end oppression. Marxian scholars – from Marx through Gramsci to Paolo Freire and the present day – view theory and praxis as dialectical, each informing the other and guiding a culture to resistance and revolution. As such, ideas must be accessible to those who are oppressed; the obscuration (?) of ideas is a deliberate ruling class tactic. Postmodernism – even to some extent its more material sisters in poststructuralism – illustrates how that obscuring works. The status quo cannot be challenged, let alone overthrown, by symbolic means. It can only perpetuate those already in power.

In short, the oppressed have always been defined as Other, and marginalized, by those who benefit from the system. The oppressors have control of the structures which keep people unquestioning, or at least obedient. But within each group, marginalized or central, a particular way of doing things, a method of interpretation, develops. Some of these are higher status – a ruling class will define the nature of art, what are the highest status foods, and so forth. But every group develops its own culture. And that culture is partly passed down with tacit assumptions – of course no one wears bright colors to work; of course one doesn’t raise one’s voice when excited. They are passed on by each cultural group.

This communication is useful for maintaining structures of . It’s inevitable in a hierarchical society that the powerful communicate with the less powerful in a certain way which maintains that power. On the other side, the marginalized, who have more to lose when moving among the powerful, have their own code; ways to avoid triggering entitlement rage, for example. They also have customs and ways of speaking among themselves which builds relationships – highly necessary for survival in a marginalized population.

    Culture and Meaning in Women’s Community

These communicative behaviors have been well-established among communication scholars, linguistics, and others who pay attention to difference.

It should go without saying that any definition of woman needs to include both the biological and the material consequences of being female. At the same time, a materialist does not embrace the religious aspects of gender; mystical abilities assigned to one sex or other proceeding from biology, for example. “Woman” is most important for its social implications; that is, the dynamics of power and control. In other words, the “body” of a woman is the site of struggle on which political dynamics play themselves out. It has meaning, and those meanings have consequences.

Without meaning, a body is… just a body. Some have abilities many have not got. In a social world, individual interpretation of one’s body is no one else’s business, unless of course there are medical or other implications in certain specialties. In such a case, a body is only relevant to its owner and the professionals s/he engages in adjusting it for a better physical or mental personal life.

But meaning is universal to humans, except a few extremely brain-damaged individuals. Meaning is culture, and culture is meaning. As Edward Hall says, culture teaches us what to pay attention to and what to ignore. All humans have feet, but only particular cultures assign the feet meaning , so that pointing a foot at an object is a deadly insult. All humans have right and left hands, but some cultures view the use of those hands with awe or disdain. Whether a human is sinister or not may well be which hand they use as dominant.

Cultures may acquire these meanings almost at random, from other power dynamics. But one tendency of bodies is universally noticed historically: the ability to produce children from inside them. And, once noted, culture has assigned meanings to that.

Those meanings are called “gender.” Without going into the early worship of the female for its ability to produce children, I will summarize what gender has meant since the rise of agriculture at least: a division of labor, a particular place in the acquisition of resources, and a constant awareness that culturally men and women are not the same because of reproductive distinctions.

–Kes Sparhawk

The normalization of anal sex.

The author of this post has asked to remain anonymous.

“I have to wonder how many teenage girls first learn about anal sex via rape, as I did.

Normalizing anal sex only increases the already heightened pressure on girls to perform sex acts which have very little to do with love. The problem with being “sex positive” is that it is not the same as being love positive; it is not positive at all, when it comes to feelings, feelings which for adult women are complex when it comes to sex, and which for teenage girls who are forming a personal and sexual identity during an impressionable time of life particularly should not be navigated lightly. Yet that is exactly what articles like this aim to do: normalize “kink” and extreme sex acts for teenage girls–and teenage boys–a population for whom necking and dry-humping with someone you like, someone who is also learning, should still be the height of excitement.

I was raped by my much-older boyfriend as a teenager, and I didn’t call it rape for years, because I didn’t know a person could be raped by someone she was in a sexual relationship with. I didn’t know anything about “grooming,” or what that meant, even as it was happening to me; I had never received any sort of education about consent, or about sexual respect, boundaries, or about how to look out for myself in a world full of men who cared little for my humanity but a lot for what they could do to my body. Imagine how much harder it will be for teen girls to identify rape by boyfriends in a world in which they are supposed to be “the cool girl?”

For all those who love anal sex, I’m so happy for you. I suppose you have not experienced anal rape on more than one occasion, as I have. I also suppose you have not been coerced into it on other occasions. I guess you have never had a boyfriend angrily shove his thumb up your ass because you said “no” to anal sex, and he inferred you had done it with other men but would not with him. I suppose, though, that is better than a boyfriend who rapes you with his penis for saying “no” to anal, isn’t it? Who would have thought that when I finally got the wherewithal to say “no” to something I had always found painful and degrading, I would be forced anyway, and that when I was finally old enough to know you could be raped by someone you were sleeping with, it wouldn’t matter anyway?

I feel quite certain more girls are anally raped now than ever before, because of porn, and that more men feel more entitled to do that to a woman who says no, because articles such as this in a publication like Teen Vogue tell them that girls and women are being unreasonable when they make this sex act off-limits.

FTR, my most recent rapist ex apparently has preferred anal since he was a teenager, which means he has been coercing girls and women for a long time. It was quite clear it was all about “conquering,” about regaining power after perceived rejection, with him. For other men, it was also clearly about this kind of power, the rush they got from coercing and degrading a woman (or, for some, the validation and acceptance they felt in her complete surrender), as well as the desire to “own” every part of a woman’s body; for a few it was merely about entitlement, which is an expression of power in and of itself, a power which is arrogantly assumed rather than one which is violently sought.

More power to you, anal-lovers. I’m so glad you survived your adolescence and young womanhood thus far unscathed, and don’t have to do any of the tough kind of soul-searching of trying to figure out just *what it is about me* without veering into victim-blaming territory. If only my sex life were as easy for me as “enjoying or not enjoying anal.”

The inherent paradox in the trans cult.

All ideologies have paradoxes and contradictions. More rational ideologies may have relatively subtle paradoxes, which take a great deal of understanding of the principles to grasp. More irrational ideologies may have more obvious contradictions, especially if they advocate a fixed idea, which is necessarily and absolutely true. In my entry on fixed ideas, I identified three main properties:

1. The fixed idea is an absolute, said to be true in all cases, and generally must not be questioned (or cannot be questioned because it has epistemic consequences).

2. The fixed idea is an a priori, and any justification offered for it are obviously ad hoc and after the fact. Either way, it cannot be disproved by observation or experiment, making refutation impossible unless one shakes his belief in the idea to begin with.

3. The efficacy of a fixed idea depends on how many corollaries can be pinned to it, and how varied those corollaries can be.

All religious movements, all totalitarian movements, all totalizing belief systems, have a fixed idea or fixed ideas at their core. Usually that fixed idea is something like “the leader is always right” or “the holy book is always right,” but it is not necessarily of this sort.

The fixed idea in the trans cult is something like this:
An individual’s self-identification as regards to gender is always valid and can never be questioned.

This proposition fulfills all three properties. It is absolute, always true, and must not be questioned. It is a priori, and no justification is even attempted. And the entire trans cult relies on this proposition as its foundation. If gender was seen from the same standpoint as race, culture, or height, then there could be no trans ideology. The entire thing is based on a foundation of personal feelings, a subjective foundation.

The paradox is that this subjective foundation is the basis of an ideology which is very much totalitarian and seeks to invalidate other people’s feelings about gender. Anyone whose feelings about gender differs from theirs, even if they identify as transgender, is labeled a “TERF,” which is basically a slur for any enemy of the cult (like heretic, enemy of mankind, etc). Little children are imposed a gender by trans advocates and put on the fast track to transition (with untested medications and surgeries). Lesbians, whose sexual orientation precludes the “gender as feeling” definition, are treated as enemies because of how they feel (who they are attracted to). Any subjectivity that contradicts theirs is anathema and heresy.

Which leads to the question: why is their subjectivity more valid than ours? The answer is simple: because theirs is unquestionable and absolute, and therefore ours must be wrong (both factually and morally). The trans cult wants to dictate how we see and interact with other people on the basis of gender, by stating that their subjectivity dictates a specific, universal definition of what gender can and cannot be. They claim that gender is, specifically and universally, an identity which exists in our brains. This shows that the fixed idea is really about determining whose subjectivity controls how we all perceive the world.

To be clear, the trans cult does not only want to affirm its own subjectivity about gender, but also viciously attack all others. Like any cult, they must attack their perceived enemies, but this means that they are attacking other people’s rights to feel however they feel.

The trans cult shares another thing in common with traditional religious movements: the repudiation of the body. Traditionally, this has been done by positing a body/soul dichotomy, in which the soul is divine and must be purified in order to be with God, and the body is a dirty, “worldly” thing which is mired in sin. The body must be beaten, disciplined, restrained, pleasures must be reined in, in order to ensure the purity of the soul.

In these modern times, intelligent people don’t believe in souls, so instead we have a body/mind dichotomy, which is what the trans cult is based on. Their view is that the components of the body (i.e. biological sex) are irrelevant and constructed by society, while the feeling in our mind (i.e. “innate gender”) is absolute and unquestionable. They are positing that our mind is somehow disconnected from our body, that the organs, hormones or chromosomes that we have are irrelevant to the one “true” gender which is the one in our minds. The mind can therefore “dictate” gender to the body through the medium of self-mutilations, medications, surgeries, and so on. The healthy body must be subverted, butchered, for the sake of the mind, which contains the idealized gender.

This of course brings the important question, which is sometimes asked and prefigures the paradox I discussed above: if the idealized gender is only in the mind, then why change the body at all? Or to put this in more general terms, why not just tend to the soul and leave the body alone?

Traditionally, the Christian answer has been that suffering cleanses your soul. The answer from the trans cult is that those who do not butcher their bodies will kill themselves. This is not shown by the data, but let’s ignore that. The deeper question here is, where does this existential despair come from? If we presuppose that the body/mind dichotomy proposed by the cult is correct, then it makes no logical sense; if the gender in the mind has no connection at all to the body, then why should the state of the body compel the mind to despair?

The answer, in practice, is that (barring people who actually suffer from some kind of body dysmorphia) the suffering is entirely caused by the belief that they are the “wrong gender.” But who taught them this belief? The trans cult! Like all religions, the trans cult sells you on a sin or defect, which you must then saved from. To convince people that they have a terrible defect which can be resolved by belief in one’s religion is the oldest scam trick in the book.

Nowadays, the trans cult is tilting its spear at basic biology and claims that biological sex is a fantasy. They also completely reject transsexualism. Both these things are understandable from the standpoint of the body/mind dichotomy: were they to acknowledge any importance or relevance to the body or biological sex at all, their entire edifice would crumble. In order for this to work, it must place gender solely in the mind, in the person’s subjectivity, because such a subjectivity cannot be scientifically examined. Much like God hiding in the clouds, then out in space, then in another dimension, gender must be hidden in the places where science can’t reach. The only viable religion is an unfalsifiable religion. But unfalsifiable beliefs are ultimately not meaningful: if I can’t see or measure for myself what facts of reality a statement refers to, then I can’t understand its meaning, no matter what I imagine in my head. I do not dispute that people claim to have a gender in their head, but I have no way to observe it, or test that claim. It is therefore no more reliable than the statement that God popped the universe from nothing by saying a word.

Questions for radical feminists by Future Female Leaders

Future Female Leaders, a conservative site for young women, has a list of “10 Questions We Need Radical Feminists To Answer Pronto.” These questions were written by one “Aryssa D,” which has in her bio “When she is not being ‘oppressed’ by the patriarchy…” So this right away tells you the level of feminist discourse on this site. These are a bunch of conservatives who don’t believe in feminism. This is all the more obvious because they have no clue what radical feminism is. And this is a general confusion amongst conservatives: they pretend to address radical feminism while talking about liberal feminism, they pretend to address liberal feminism while talking about radical feminism, and in general it is very clear that they have no interest whatsoever in knowing what the fuck they’re talking about (but what’s new, right?).

Liberal feminists are not much better, but their ignorance is motivated by ideology and hatred, instead of an aversion to basic logic and general mendacity like conservatives. I am not saying that the latter is better. In most feminist respects, conservatives are worse than liberals. But I still don’t like being confused with their nonsense. And these questions are a great demonstration of the utter confusion that conservatives experience when they try to confront feminism.

1. How is being pro-choice, or pro-abortion, supporting equality for all: mother, father, and baby?

This, combined with question 3, indicates that they believe radical feminism is about equality. This of course is incorrect. Liberal feminism preaches gender equality, while radical feminism preaches the end of patriarchy (that social institution that the author herself doesn’t believe exist, which makes her about on par with 9/11 truthers and vaccine deniers). Radical feminists reject equality under the law because this equality would not address the root of the prejudice and exploitation of women.

The anti-abortion position is not a position of equality, because it is fundamentally an anti-woman ideology. Their objective is not to lower the number of abortions (because there are many means they could take to accomplish this, and they don’t do any of them). Their objective, as indicated by their actions and rhetoric, is to punish and torture women. So a conservative should not be asking such a question, since the answer will inevitably be: it supports equality more than your anti-abortion position.

Furthermore, the anti-abortion position has no respect for the child side of the equation either. They don’t give a shit if a baby is born with compromised health. They don’t give a shit if a baby is born unwanted or in a family that can’t raise it. They don’t think babies have any rights at all. So what is there for them to be equal to?

So the question is entirely out of line. As I wrote about in my new book A New Approach to Procreative Ethics, we can only analyze procreation through the three sides of the procreative triangle, mother, father and child, by looking at antinatalism and childism, two frameworks that belong to the radical side of politics. The standard views on procreation only look at one side, that of the father (and its abstract patriarchal extension in “the economy”). Being pro-abortion supports the equality of all because it takes into consideration the rights and needs of potential children, something which no other position does. It’s not that the pro-abortion supports equality better than the other positions, but that there’s just no contest.

2. Do you really believe that American women are horribly oppressed when there are women out there that cannot vote, drive, file for divorce, etc?

This is the standard “they have it worse elsewhere” argument. The main problem with this argument is that it’s used as a weapon against women everywhere, not just in Western countries. Middle class women are told they have it better than poor women and women of color. Poor women and women of color are told they have it better than women in India. Indian women in cities are told they have it better than women in rural areas. In all cases, the message is always: “shut the fuck up!” Likewise, this conservative woman wants feminists to shut the fuck up. A strange argument to make on a list of question which, you would assume, is meant to open discussion, not close it.

Of course it’s wrong for women to be unable to drive or divorce. To argue that saying Western women are oppressed means that other women are not even more oppressed is silly. To advocate for Western workers is not to argue that workers in Chinese sweatshops are not being oppressed. A person can hold two positions at the same time, one group of people can be oppressed while another group is even more oppressed, and we can recognize those facts. It’s not rocket science.

3. How do you hold yourself on such a pedestal for promoting “equality for all women” but then bash women who do not agree with you?

As I already pointed out, radical feminism has nothing to do with equality. Beyond that, radical feminists do bash women who claim to be feminist but promote anti-feminist ideologies, conservatives and liberals alike. There is nothing contradictory between holding to an ideology that is against the patriarchy and bashing people who promote the patriarchy. Feminism does not promote the belief that all women’s positions are equally valid. Feminism is a political ideology, not a book club.

4. Why do you consider government restrictions on abortion “politicians being all up in your business” but are happy with politicians and the government dictating which healthcare you must have, what you must learn in school (Common Core) and taxing you left and right?

Again, there is this profound confusion of radical feminism with liberals. All of these things are liberal constructs. While there are disagreements, radicals are generally not in favor of government schooling or government-controlled health care. We reject the notion that education or health care must be left to some hierarchical system and put outside of the hands of the people who are “served” by it. I’m certainly not “happy” with any of those things. I don’t like the tax money going to the military (no matter which one). I don’t like children being brainwashed by public/private factory schooling. I don’t like health care left in the hands of the government or megacorporations. And none of this has anything to do with radical feminism specifically.

5. Why are you more concerned about fictional characters on fictional television shows getting fictionally raped than real men having their real lives ruined by very false rape accusations (I’m looking at you, Rolling Stone)?

I have never heard any radical feminist complain about specific fictional rapes. Yes, obviously the prevalence of rape culture in the media is a bad thing. It is an important issue. It is certainly more important than false rape accusations, which are not an issue. Studies have shown that the prevalence of false rape accusations is no greater than false accusations of other crimes. People who are victims of false accusations have their lives turned upside down, but this is not specific to rape. Is that a bad thing? Of course. Is it more of a problem than rape culture? No.

6. Why have you let Lena Dunham become a spokesperson for your cause, a woman who has admitted to taking advantage of her younger sister sexually and doing “anything a sexual predator might do”?

Lena Dunham is notoriously a liberal activist. I don’t know much about American culture and even I know this. She has nothing to do with radical feminism. I can’t believe anyone would be this stupid.

7. Do you really think being able to walk around topless is a freedom that women need to live a good life?

No, and I haven’t see any radical feminist advocating for toplessness. The topic of Femen and other “nude protests” only invokes ridicule in radical circles. Being able to walk around topless is not a necessary freedom. It would be nice if women could walk around topless without being harassed or being treated as sex objects, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

8. How do you make supporting the right to abortion a tenant of feminism when the majority of abortions performed worldwide are due to the child being female (gender-selective abortions)?

This is an argument of a kind similar to “how can you support right X when these people over there misuse it so badly?” But rights are not attributed on the basis of them being used wisely or misused. In fact, a conservative should agree on that one point: that rights are supposed to be inalienable and are not contingent on how they are being misused (gun rights anyone?). For a conservative to turn around and say that the right to abortion should be rejected because it’s being misused is rather silly.

As a pro-abortion advocate, I believe that any abortion is a good thing, no matter what the purpose is, even if it’s motivated by hatred of women. Would I rather people didn’t hate women? Yes, but only radical feminism can provide any situation to that state of affairs. Conservatives have no answer to the hatred of women, since they deny its causes.

9. When you say “Teach men not to rape” are you meaning to imply that men have been, in the past, taught TO rape, or that men are the only people capable of rape (Mary-Kay Letourneau, anyone?)?

Another unoriginal argument, this time of the “women do it too” variety. Yes, women can rape too. So what? There is nothing in the concept of rape culture which implies that only men can rape. Likewise, we also live in a death culture, but there are also people who are compassionate and who don’t promote violence. Not many people, but they do exist. Any culture necessarily has dissidents, otherwise it’s a cult dogma, not a culture. There is a difference.

By the same vein, men are not explicitly taught how to rape. There is no one out there except PUAs going “here are the steps you need to follow to coerce a woman into sex,” but even most PUAs are more coy about it than that. Men are taught the mindset that tells them sex with women is necessary, allows them to see coercive sex as acceptable, and are taught the means by which they can bring it about. No one needs to tell young men how to rape because they can add it all together fairly easily.

When we say “teach men not to rape,” we mean to imply that when a man rapes a woman, the man is responsible for the act, not the woman. For any other crime, this is implied and generally agreed upon. Few people blame the victim of an assault, a theft, or a kidnapping. We do not teach potential victims of assault, theft, or kidnapping that they are to blame if they are actually targeted, or that being victimized is a moral failing. To do so would be laughable. It is equally laughable to do it in the case of rape.

10. Do you really think the original feminists, the women who fought for the right to vote, would be proud of you fighting for the right to bare your lady parts, abort your children and shame men into submission like you claim they would?

I don’t think the author has much insight into the minds of first wave feminists, since she doesn’t seem to know anything about the development of feminist thought at all. I know nothing about their psychology, and so I really have no idea if they would be proud of breastfeeding, abortion, or BDSM (I’m not sure what the “shame men into submission” is supposed to refer to, so I assume it has to do with that pet liberal feminist cause).

A more important question would be: should WE be proud of it? Taking a historical view, first and second wave feminism were movements that aimed at removing oppression, and therefore they were on the right side of history. Liberal feminists and anti-feminists are on the wrong side of history. I don’t think we should be proud of the mainstream acceptance of BDSM, because it is a step backwards in feminist thought, but I do think we should be proud of the growing acceptance of breastfeeding in public and of abortion rights, as these advance women’s well-being against patriarchal objectification. Conservatives demand that we see women as walking incubators and inherently dirty bodies. We must reject these views as backwards, and I certainly don’t think anyone should be proud of them. The fact that any human being would be proud of such views is the really shameful thing here.

Brynn Tannehill and the Huffington Post pushing the transgender cult dogma about gender.

The Huffington Post published a pseudo-scientific, confused, self-contradictory mess about gender from the transgender perspective written by transgender advocate Brynn Tannehill. And make no qualms about it, this is a pro-gender screed, as the introduction itself specifies:

Gender and gender expression are complicated, but not nearly so much as critics would like to claim. They are also not inherently contradictory, nor anti-feminist. Indeed, they can be liberating for everyone.

From an actual feminist perspective, this statement makes no sense. Gender by definition is a hierarchy which classifies men as superiors and women as inferiors. To support gender means that you support the oppression of women. How can that not be anti-feminist? We know FETAs hate and exclude women, but they constantly project that exclusion by accusing feminists of excluding transgender people and being “transmisogynists.”

I am not sure what it means to say that gender is not inherently contradictory. FETAs certainly cannot provide any (non-circular) definition of gender, therefore it’s impossible to say whether their concept of gender is contradictory or not. It may be or it may not be. Either way, it’s invalid.

The first point is a jab at right-wingers who reject the FETA concept of gender because they don’t understand it. While I can’t blame them, because FETAs actually have no coherent concept of gender, I will skip over it because all it reduces itself to is “don’t argue against something just because you don’t understand it,” like physics. While I think it’s laughable that Tannehill would equate her petty prejudices with one of the most successful sciences in the history of science, I will simply go on to the next point.

2. It is not a fad: Gender non-conforming people have been around for millennia

There is extensive archaeological evidence that transgender and gender non-conforming people have existed for millennia. In Eastern Europe, 5,000 year old graves were found with female skeletons buried with male warrior accoutrements. There are records of Norse women going Viking (raiding). Joan of Arc was burned for wearing men’s clothing. The Kama Sutra describes a third sex, and the Bible talks of “self-made eunuchs.” The kathoey of Thailand have a place within Buddhist writings. Other cultures have long traditions of gender non-conforming individuals, such as the hijra of Hinduism and India, the fa’a’fa’fine of the Pacific Islands, and two-spirits in Native American culture.

Here we see again the long-standing FETA trend of co-opting non-Western cultures (which applies in all listed cases except Joan of Arc) for non-binary genders and jamming them into the transgender umbrella. There is zero attempt here to discuss what these individual phenomena were about, what they represented to those people at the time and in their culture. They seek to reduce everything to a shallow imperialist Western transgenderist analysis.

Beyond that general criticism, many of these cases are actually great examples of the exclusionary nature of transgender advocacy. These people seriously believe that a woman wearing men’s clothing (for that culture and time) or participating in typically men’s activities (as labeled in that culture and time) means that these women were actually transgender, that a woman cannot wear different clothing or do different things and still be a woman! Did all these women actually identify as transgender? No, because that concept did not exist. They were women wearing men’s clothes and doing men’s activities. Which they are perfectly justified in doing, because being a woman implies nothing about what one should wear, think, or do.

She has no idea what Joan of Arc’s “innate gender” was. She has no idea what gender Norse women identified as. According to the trans cult’s dogma, she is guilty of the worst sin one can commit, misgendering.

Have gender non-conforming people been around for millennia? Of course. But this goes nowhere in proving that the FETA position makes any sense. Trangender people didn’t exist, because there was no such thing as “being transgender.” Identification is not innate, it is constructed by relating to other people and producing inter-subjective agreements, like any other ideological, religious, or relational group.

3. Gender fluid expression is something a lot of straight cisgender people do (to a degree) already

Women in American society can (and do) express their gender in ways that that can change from day to day, if not hour to hour. They can put on a business suit to feel commanding and strong at work or an interview, both of which are stereotyped as masculine traits. Or mix a jacket with a dress to keep it at a business level, but more feminine. Other times they can dress in ways that make them feel attractive, which often means much more stereotypically feminine attire…

Women in our culture have much greater room to express their gender than men do, but this bolsters the underlying point. Given the option, straight cisgender people will change their gender expression to fit how they want to feel about themselves in that moment, whether it is sexy, strong, or comfortable. While these feelings may be tied to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, they are deeply ingrained into how we see ourselves.

Completely omitted from the discussion here is the reason why women do this. And it is very interesting that Tannehill singles out women here, because women are the category of people who need the most to be “fluid.” Why? Because they have the least power over how they are seen by others. Women must change their gender expression, not because of how they “feel,” but because of the demands imposed on them. There is the constant demand to be attractive, but also the constant pressure on women to outperform men or be forgotten. Women navigate this labyrinth of expectations and demands in order to not be seen as second class citizens, not because they are expressing themselves.

Because FETAs are generally privileged white men, and have never been oppressed because of their gender, they easily think of gender as something you play with, not as something that one struggles with. Brynn Tannehill, a man who graduated college and served in the US military, is a good example of this. It is people like Tannehill, men who treat other people’s lives as a plaything for their ambitions, who see the oppression of others as a game. Because transgender ideology is a genderist ideology, it is also inherently a patriarchal ideology, an ideology which promotes male supremacy. Men appropriate women’s identity and then viciously attack the women, especially lesbians, who complain or argue against that appropriation.

4. Gender has components of both nature and nurture

Demonstrating that gender has components that are social constructs is relatively easy. The colors pink and blue are not intrinsically gendered; they are merely frequencies of light. Dresses and skirts are not either; they are simply bits of fabric any human being can drape over themselves. (The fact that some people are willing to defend the morality of hurting or killing someone for wearing the “wrong” bit of fabric says a lot more about us than it does the fabric.)

At the same time, people seem to have an innate gender identity, whether female, male, or somewhere in between. Anecdotally, we can see this in Dr. John Money’s failed experiment with David Remer, who was raised as a girl but never identified as such. The guevodoces of the Caribbean similarly appear female until puberty and are raised as such as a result of 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. However, at puberty their genitals descend, and are treated as male thereafter. While usually infertile, guevodoces almost universally identify as male, despite their upbringing.

Isn’t it… interesting… that all the examples Tannehill brings up concern people who identify as men? I don’t find that particularly surprising that some people may want to identify as men in a society where we are socialized in a gender hierarchy where men are the superiors. But this is speculation, since I do not know the particulars.

That little curiosity aside, the examples themselves refute what they are supposed to demonstrate. The conceptions of gender operating in one village in the Dominican Republic with a prevalence of a very specific sex-related birth defect are rather different from those operating amongst English-Canadians during the seventies. This disproves the notion of an “innate gender identity,” which would be the same in each case. If gender identity was innate, then there could be no comparison to make between these two contexts, and the argument would be simply invalid.

A valid argument for innate gender would start by stating what those innate genders are exactly, and then compare those innate genders with the ones we have today in various cultures. But the fact that various cultures have wildly different conceptions of gender would then collapse the argument. Any concept of an innate gender is an intellectual dead end.

A recent meta-study at Boston University looked at the peer reviewed evidence, and concluded that gender identity has biological origins, though the exact biological mechanisms remain unknown. This conclusion is not uncommon; it is effectively the same conclusion we have reached about sexual orientation and autism; namely that these have biological origins which are not fully understood.

There is a link provided to the abstract of this meta-study (the full text of this study is available here). The conclusion of the study is not that “gender identity has biological origins,” because the study is about the existing literature, not about presenting scientific evidence for the claim. So this statement by Tannehill is a straightforward lie. Beyond that, there are reasons why the individual studies discussed in this meta-study are irrelevant or disreputable, but there is no point in discussing those since Tannehill doesn’t even bother to do so. At any rate, it seems like the meta-study was thrown in as a way to say that actual evidence was presented, but without even bothering to read the abstract.

Tannehill further shows her lack of desire for real scientific evidence by shackling her case to that of sexual orientation. Actually, there is no credible evidence that sexual orientation has a biological basis. Note that I am not saying that sexual orientation definitely does not have a biological basis, simply that our default position should be to reject that notion unless it is well demonstrated. In the case of transgenderism, we should likewise reject the proposition that transgenderism has a biological basis until such a basis is well demonstrated. But at any rate, this cannot prove the existence of “innate gender,” because such a concept is illogical and contradicts our understanding of human societies. Which brings us to the next point…

5. Cultural gender norms change over time naturally

Remember the whole pink and blue thing for boys and girls? That wasn’t always the case. It used to be that pink was the color for baby boys. This can be seen in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, where the baby that Lady protects is clearly sated to be a boy, and yet is dressed in pink, as was traditional at the time…

Thus, the angst over people eschewing modern gendered norms is less about the norms themselves. If it was about a belief that gender norms are immutable and unchanging, then why aren’t conservatives upset about Lady and the Tramp? They aren’t, and thus fact remains that gender norms are changing and conservatives are angry they have little control over it. The change itself is a normal part of cultural evolution.

Radical feminists, who oppose the trans cult and FETAs, have been repeating this for a while now, because this, as I already pointed out, neatly disproves the concept of “innate gender.” If gender was innate, then it would not change substantially in the way that it actually does in real cultures. We have innate biological needs, a fact that does not change between cultures, which all develop some way to deal with hunger, thirst, shelter, and so on. We have innate morality as social animals, a fact that does not change between cultures, which all develop sets of rules regulating social behavior. We have biological sex, a fact that does not change between cultures. Gender, however, can change rather drastically between cultures and eras.

If changes to the conception of gender are part of cultural evolution, then they cannot, by definition, be innate: they are social constructs.

6. How you were raised does not determine the reality of your gender identity

One line of argument that tries to further segregate transgender people is that they are not “real” women or men because they do not have the exact same experiences as most cisgender people. This is dangerous in the sense that it invalidates the lived experiences of a threatened minority group, while othering them and opening the door for “separate but equal” legal marginalization. It’s also wrong on a number of levels.

I literally have no idea what this argument means. The argument is not that “a transwoman/transman is not a ‘real’ woman/man because she/he did not have the exact same experiences as ‘cisgender’ people.” First of all, there is no such thing as cisgender people (i.e. there are no people who conform completely to their gender role at all times), so I have no idea what the comparison is based on. But secondly, that is not the argument being made by opponents of the trans cult. The experiences of a transgender person don’t have anything to do with their biological sex. Biological sex is a fact of biology, a measurable fact, not a question of experience.

I think this may be a failed attempt at referencing the socialization argument, that transwoman specifically (not all transgender people, as she tries to make us believe here) were socialized as boys and therefore maintain the attitude of male entitlement that they were raised with. If that’s what was intended, then the response is highly inadequate. We are not “invalidating the lived experiences” of transwomen. We take them at their word when they talk about their personal experiences and their sense of identity. Where we disagree is on the ideological implications of these experiences, especially as they relate to gender and the rights of women.

Transgender people are held to a double (read impossible) standard for asserting the validity of their gender identities. David Reimer was raised as a girl, but no one questioned whether he was a “real” boy when he asserted gender identity. The same is true for the guevodoces. In this, we can see that when someone asserts a gender other than the one they were raised in, it is only treated as valid if the individual’s eventual identity is cisgender.

Here Tannehill is just straight contradicting herself. Her argument in previous points was that transgender individuals have an innate sense of gender because of some biological component, and she linked to a meta-study which cites many studies which hold that people’s gender identity is linked to their genetics or some sex-based brain part. Here she is saying that that very argument holds transgender people to an impossible standard. So which is it? Is the validity of gender identity linked to sexed biological component, or isn’t it? If the latter, then what is it linked to? If something in humans is innate but cannot be measured in any way within the human body, then in what way can it possibly be said to be innate?

7. Transgender people do not intrinsically reinforce gender stereotypes

Transgender people, by definition, go directly against societal norms for how a person should dress or act based on their assigned gender. Virtually every Circuit Court in the U.S. has agreed with this interpretation of what it is to be transgender. However, the argument made by anti-transgender conservatives attempting to appeal to women and feminists is that when transgender people transition, they do so by adopting cultural norms and stereotypes of their target gender, thus reinforcing them.

This is a dishonest argument, because Tannehill knows very well that this argument is strictly invalid under her own belief system. If a man adopts female cultural norms, FETAs say that this person is actually a woman, therefore they do conform to societal norms of how their actual gender should dress or act!

To express this more clearly:

Right-wing argument:
A person should adopt the societal norms of their assigned gender.
This man is adopting the societal norms of women.
Therefore this person is acting wrongly.

FETA argument:
A person should adopt the societal norms of their innate gender.
This person is adopting the societal norms of women.
Therefore this person is a woman.

Radical feminist argument:
A person should not adopt societal norms of gender, because gender is a social construct which subjugates women.
This person is a man adopting the societal norms of women.
This person is not wrong, and they are also not a woman. There is no norm of dress or action that should be followed by anyone based on gender, because gender is generally irrelevant to determining how one should dress or act. How you dress or act does not make you a man or a woman.

Under the FETA argument, no person can go against the societal norms of their gender. They simply believe that the assigned gender is invalid and that the “innate gender” is valid. Radical feminists do not believe in either assigned gender or “innate gender” as connecting people to an obligation to dress or act in any specific way. People should be free to dress or act in any way they find fit. The FETA argument is merely the flip-side of the right-wing argument.

Both cisgender and transgender people change their gender expression to match how they feel about their gender, and themselves, at any given moment. However, transgender people have traditionally had even less space to express their gender than others.

I’ve already debunked that notion above. Most people do not change the way they dress or act because of “gender expression,” but because they way they dress or act has a direct impact in how seriously other people take them, and how they are able to deal with a hostile capitalist society. Gender roles are prison cells, and we are all prisoners of them to some extent, although women, as I’ve already pointed out, are the primary victims of the gender hierarchy. The only system which would permit us to express ourselves through our mode of dress or the way we act, in short which would permit us to have the same privileges as the white men who think gender is a fun game, would be a system where gender is abolished, capitalism is abolished, and we can all be treated as individuals with our own personal preferences and whose livelihood does not partially depend on what other people think of us.

In the past, transgender people (particularly transgender women) were not allowed to medically transition unless they looked, sounded, and acted in a stereotypically feminine manner. In recent years, people who are visibly gender non-conforming have been at a much higher risk of violence than those who blend in. Religious conservatives have urged violence against transgender people; and the easiest way to avoid this is to adopt an appearance and mannerisms which blend in.

As such, if transgender people have done anything to reinforce stereotypes, it is a result of a patriarchal culture which we have no control over which severely punishes anyone who is seen to violate these stereotypes.

I find it extremely interesting that it is only at the end of this article that Tannehill, after lauding “gender expression” over and over, finally acknowledges that people dress and act in certain ways in order to escape judgment and punishment. Where was this enlightened attitude in the rest of the article? Or does she only sympathize with transgender people (and also giving lip service to gender non-conforming people)? I guess “cis people” (whoever the fuck that is) don’t deserve to be understood.

Also, is it a Freudian slip that she typed “stereotypically feminine manner,” implying that the only transgender people that exist are men wanting to become women? She should have written “stereotypical manner conforming to their innate gender.” I guess the plight of transmen is not that important, right? After all, they are only females, and females are not as important anyway.

Either way, I don’t understand why Tannehill is deploring the fact that transwomen had to “look, sound, and act in a stereotypically feminine manner,” since that’s exactly what FETAs are advocating: that transwomen must “look, sound, and act in a stereotypically feminine manner.” They spend a lot of time telling transwomen how they should move and sit, how they should sound, what attitudes they should have, in order to be “real women.” Why else do transwomen receive estrogen, and go through surgery to get a fake vulva, if not to “look… in a stereotypically feminine manner”? The whole point of transition is to turn a person with their own individuality, their own particularities, into walking stereotypes. All cults seek to brainwash their members so their personalities conform to a certain model, but the trans cult takes that to a whole new level.

Jerry Coyne says “rape culture” doesn’t actually exist.

I have never heard of Jerry Coyne before, but he is apparently a well-known proponent of atheism and evolution. His blog is called Why Evolution is True. His article on the rape culture, called Author claims that ALL men are “unsafe” enablers of rape culture—even her own sons, ironically, shows that his reasoning has not evolved. He’s responding to an article written by a liberal feminist called Jody Allard (I can’t imagine what nonsense he’d have come up with if he was answering an actual feminist).

This woman was reasonably pointing out that all men are potential rapists and that men are not “safe” for women to be around. This is demonstrated by crime rates by gender, the incidence of rape, as well as the profound sense of entitlement that men display. Coyne’s response is… not very serious:

Now, I don’t know exactly what people mean by a “rape culture”. Rape is a serious crime in the U.S., nobody I know takes it lightly, its incidence has been falling (85% since 1980, according to government statistics [and a drop of more than 50% for college-aged women since 1996]), and, at least from my own experience, I’ve never heard a man say anything about rape other than it’s horrible and offenders should be punished severely.

I don’t understand why Coyne thought he should write an article about a concept he doesn’t even understand, but this demonstrates that he didn’t even bother to research anything, which is not a good sign for a scientist. Perhaps he thought a feminist issue was below his level, and that he could just say whatever came to his head.

Unfortunately, what came to his head was not convincing. Of course rape is a crime and men will publicly declare that they are against it. Traditionally, rape has been a crime because wives were considered to be the property of their husbands. Nowadays, we distinguish between “good women” and “bad women,” with “good women” (usually defined as “your mother, your wife, your daughter,” basically anyone you care about) not “deserving” to be raped, while “bad women” (prostituted women, promiscuous women, women of color, lesbians, and so on) “deserve” to be raped.

In my entry on the subject of rape culture, I addressed the misconception that opposition to rape means there is no rape culture. In order to create a culture of rape, in order to keep women in line and ensure that women are groomed for male abuse, you only need a small percentage of men to actively rape. As we see with actual rape cases, most men may profess to be against rape, but they trip over each other to make excuses and justify another man’s rape. Rape culture means that we live in a society (and a world) where women are persecuted for calling out rapists. Rape culture means that men feel entitled to women’s sexuality, and that women are kept in their place as providers of sexuality (through pornography, prostitution, “sex work,” and to a lesser extent mainstream media).

Of course I don’t inhabit all American cultures, but Allard’s sons, as white, educated middle-class males, can’t live in a milieu much different from the one live in. But I hasten to add that rape is still far too common, with roughly 15% of women experiencing it at least once in their lives. That horrifyingly common! But if we do live in a “rape culture,” then we live even more in a “robbery” and “aggravated assault” culture, with the rate of the former four times higher and the latter nine times higher than the rate of rape.

This is an absurd statement. People who claim to have been robbed or assaulted are not publicly demeaned, and it is not assumed that they are in the wrong. Their claims are taken seriously. There is no one complaining about “false robbery claims,” although such claims do exist (as they do for all crimes). There is no culture pushing people to rob others as a part of their identity. So where is the evidence for this “robbery culture”? On this, Coyne has nothing to say except that the rate is higher. The fact that the rate of a crime is high, in itself, shows that this crime is being reported. Most women are afraid of reporting their rape, because they know the consequences for speaking up. So Coyne’s argument is not only specious, but also profoundly offensive. Being a man means that he doesn’t have to confront that fact.

The need to reduce the rate of sexual assault, catch more offenders, and punish them severely should not, however, mean that all men should be demonized as potential rapists and/or misogynists. Yet that’s exactly what Allard has done in her article. She says there is no such thing as a “safe” man—even her own sons.

How is it “demonizing” to call men potential rapists? 90%+ of rapists are men, across the board. So unless Coyne is saying that men are literally demons, this argument makes no sense, since men definitely are potential rapists. Not all men actually are rapists, but a woman really can’t tell by looking at any individual man whether he is a rapist or not, simply because the risk is great.

Coyne then quotes from Allard about how men absorb sexism from their socialization, and that men aren’t safe. His reply is this:

It may be true that all men absorb sexist ideas, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t try to root those ideas out, or, more important, act on those ideas and treat women as inferiors or sexual objects. Allard doesn’t think her sons will be rapists, but for some reason she doesn’t feel “safe” around them

Allard nowhere states in the quote that she doesn’t feel safe around her sons. What she does say is that men aren’t safe. Coyne perhaps does not understand the difference, or perhaps he’s being disingenuous here. The point is that he wants us to imagine Allard cowering in front of her sons, not the more accurate view that her sons, like all other individuals raised in masculinity, may become rapists and cannot be automatically exonerated for being “good guys.” It seems Coyne wants us to believe some people should be exonerated, but he doesn’t tell us how we can make that judgment call. We already know some men don’t treat women as sex objects (although subconsciously all men do), but how are we supposed to tell, apart from knowing a man personally and intensively? Unless Coyne can tell us this, his argument is utterly pointless.

Why? Because, like all men, they don’t believe everything women (and rape victims). That kind of doubt is in fact embedded in our legal system when it adjudicates rape, as it does all crimes, by looking at all the facts and convicting only when the evidence is beyond reasonable doubt.

Coyne is definitely being disingenuous here, since he knows very well the difference between a man listening to a woman in a casual setting and the setting of a court case. We don’t talk to other people in our daily lives as if we were a judge. If Coyne acts like this, then I doubt he has any friends. It is completely unscientific and irrational to treat what a woman says with the same epistemic standard as that of a court case. And yet this is an attitude that “skeptic” misogynists adopt to justify their misogyny: “women don’t provide the evidence they need to prove their claim, so I don’t have to believe them!”

One final part I want to examine is one where he quotes Allard on the fact that men don’t believe female lived experience, and that she doesn’t want to waste her time on people who are more interested in ideas than feelings. Coyne, the scientist, is annoyed by theis demand that people stop ignoring the evidence:

What bothers me here are the notions that feelings always trump ideas, that someone’s feelings are not just to be taken seriously, but believed absolutely, that those who don’t accept every word are rape-enablers, and that all men are not just tinged with sexism, but dyed with it to a degree that their actions enable “rape culture.”

But that’s not the point Allard was raising. Her point was not that men are looking at evidence instead of feelings, but rather that men refuse to look at the actual evidence of what women experience, preferring to take refuge behind slogans and bizarre belief systems. Feelings do not trump ideas, but one should not disbelieve someone’s lived experience merely on the basis of an idea. One good example of this is homophobia. Homophobes reject homosexual individuals’ lived experience because of ideas like “homosexuality is a sin” and “homosexuals are pedophiles.” Coyne’s beliefs that we should not believe women and that rape culture is a myth serve the same general purpose: reassure the bigot that he’s in the right regardless of what anyone experiences, lower the importance of “feelings,” and hold women to a higher standard than men hold themselves to. There is also the added disincentive that “feelings” are associated with femininity, thus making men reject them wholesale because listening to your feelings is “faggy.”

Does anyone who refuses to accept a woman’s every word a rape enabler? No, clearly. But men do refuse to accept women’s rape testimonies because they are rape enablers, by and large. Whether they are consciously in favour of rape, or they simply want to ignore testimonies because it’s more convenient for them, or because they are covering for other men, that’s another issue, one which should not overly concern us.

And I wonder whether teaching all boys that they’re perpetrators of “toxic masculinity” doesn’t demonize them without justification, and represents the wrong way to educate people how to treat each other as moral equals.

Equality is a liberal concern. Feminism is defined not as a demand for equality or “treating each other as moral equals,” not even for equity, but rather for liberation. Equality rhetoric assumes that everyone has the same needs and can equally flourish under the same conditions, but this is absurd from a feminist perspective. Because we live in patriarchal societies and we live in rape cultures where women’s well-being is always endangered, women do not have the same needs as men, and cannot equally flourish under the same conditions. Educating people on how to treat each other as moral equals just teaches them to ignore systemic oppression against specific groups of people… which is exactly what Coyne does in this entry.

As for toxic masculinity, I have no idea who Coyne thinks is teaching boys that they are “perpetrators of toxic masculinity.” Children are the victims of gender, not the perpetrators. To accuse children of something adults do betrays childism on Coyne’s part, but that’s par for the course.

Talking ’bout pedophilia.

The issue of pedophilia lies at the crossroads of childism and “sex-positivity,” with misogyny added for good measure. Pedophilia advocates are using the “innate sexual orientation” argument that has worked so well for homosexuals, hoping to dupe liberals and other “tolerant” folks into pitying their sad fate.

I have already given some idea of my position about pedophilia in this entry on why DD/LG (Daddy Dom/Little Girl) is pedophilia. Since then, I have had first hand experience with the rationalizations that pedophilia advocates use to defend their position, which is why I wanted to get into this topic further.

As I said, their main argument is that pedophilia is innate, and not a choice. And if it’s innate, then we can’t blame the individual pedophiles for it. While there are pedophiles who assault children, there are also pedophiles who do not. While “bad” pedophiles should be punished for their crimes, these “good” pedophiles should be pitied and helped (but only if they want to be helped, we wouldn’t want to infringe on their freedom).

The first, and most basic, issue with the argument is that we have no more evidence that pedophilia is innate than we have evidence that homosexuality is innate. This is not to say that I am against homosexuality (quite the opposite, actually), but that I see no reason to believe its “innate” framework until it’s been demonstrated. Likewise, I see no reason to believe that pedophilia is innate until that’s demonstrated as well.

This does not mean that I blame pedophiles for being pedophiles. I am a determinist, so I don’t believe in blame. To me, that’s a non-concept. However, not blaming people does not mean I don’t believe in personal responsibility. People are responsible for who they are and what they do, whether they are to blame or not. I’ve used the analogy of a machine in a factory many times before: if a machine is malfunctioning and producing defective products, you would shut it down and repair it, regardless of whether it is to blame or not (granted, the analogy is not perfect).

We know that pornography has something to do with pedophilia (as well as its greater acceptance). Pornographers have always tried to appeal to their clientele’s “inner pedo” (which is now bolstered by pseudo-science) with underage-looking women, or actually underage women with falsified contracts. People who are attracted to that sort of thing naturally “graduate” to actual child pornography, and from there to child assault. So there is some percentage of pedophilia which is not innate but the result of pornographic conditioning. What that percentage is, I have no idea. Pedophilic images from pornography have also leaked into the wider world, contributing to the normalization of being attracted to underage individuals.

it is true that there are pedophiles who do not assault children, but this does not prove that they are “good pedophiles.” While sexually assaulting children definitely makes you scum, we don’t usually praise people’s morality for not sexually assaulting people, because that’s a basic thing that everyone should be doing anyway. The fact that they refrain from assaulting children does not nullify the fact that they are sexually attracted to children.

In my opinion, this whole separation of “good and bad pedophiles” is a form of grooming, because it legitimizes pedophilia as a valid orientation, and that party line is pushed on young girls who complain about older men creeping on them. I’ve witnessed this bullshit many times on social media. Even if the pedophilia proponents are outraged that you’d even suggest that they’re grooming young girls, or would even deny that they support pedophilia (as in the case of DD/lg), that’s what they’re doing. Likewise with the constant insistence that “real BDSM” is nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey, which reinforces the notion that there is such a thing as “good BDSM” based on consent. These are all lies told to young women to get them to accept BDSM and pedophilia as normal and acceptable.

These ideas also contribute to pedophile culture. For more information on what pedophile culture is about, read this article on Feminist Current. The word “culture” in this context refers to a set of attitudes and rules which are mutually reinforcing and are accepted or thrive within a society (e.g. rape culture). Pedophile culture is not only expressed in the standards we set for women and girls, or in the way we talk about children, but also in the way it makes pedophilia itself invisible (just as rape culture makes many rapes invisible). People are simply unable to recognize pedophilia when they see it. And talk about “good pedophiles” and “real BDSM” contributes to that invisibility.

The belief in “good pedophiles” is also childist, because it posits that it is good for people to be sexually fantasizing about children. Children do not deserve to be sexual fantasies, and to say anything else is not only gross but a lack of respect towards children. Likewise, the pornification of children’s media and children themselves contribute to making the Internet a hostile place for children, as well as being highly disrespectful.

Pedophilia advocates have a number of arguments supporting pedophilia, but they mostly reduce themselves to two: the innateness arguments and the cultural relativist arguments.

There are two main innateness arguments, one that pedophilia is an innate orientation, and one that men are naturally pedophilic, which, as I said, is supported by pseudo-science. While it is true that pedophiles are by and large male, there is no evidence that pedophilia is innate and plenty of reasons to believe that it is a result of male socialization and pornographic conditioning. I don’t think there is any definite proof on the subject, but the burden of proof is on the pedophilia advocates.

Cultural relativist arguments center around the role of culture: one holds that past cultures show that pedophilia can be validated, while another holds that pedophilia is illegal in our societies only because of our repressive culture. But this is really cultural supremacism, not cultural relativism, because they are saying that the judgment of pedophilic cultures (e.g. Ancient Greece) that pedophilia is good should have precedence over our (Western culture) judgment that pedophilia as a general concept (if not in all particulars) should not be allowed. But why should we assume that pedophilic cultures are superior to ours? You can only arrive to that conclusion if you start from the premise that pedophilia is superior to the alternative, therefore it’s circular reasoning.

Furthermore, these arguments go against the “good and bad pedophiles” distinction, since they advocate open attraction or outright sex with children, which is in the “bad” category. Promoting pedophilia as innate makes no sense if you’re not also advocating for the expression of that orientation: to take their analogy with homosexuality to its logical extent, people who promote homosexuality don’t do so under the premise that gays should stay in the closet, but rather advocate for open homosexuality. Likewise, cultural relativists argue from cultures which allow open pedophilic expression, and the illegality they decry is the illegality of pedophilic expression (since it is not illegal to be a pedophile, as long as you don’t express it).

So now the pedophilia advocate is caught in a dilemma. If they want to use these arguments to support pedophilia, then they have to accept that they are also supporting child rapists. If they want to use a True Scotsman fallacy and separate the “good pedophiles” from the “bad pedophiles,” then all their arguments for pedophilia are refuted. Either way, it’s not a very good case.

“Girls just wanna have fun” and other infantilizations.

It’s probably one of the first things that anyone who converts to feminism realizes, and so it may be somewhat trivial, but the word “girls” used to designate grown women is pretty infantilizing. Adult females are women, not girls or chicks (newly hatched birds), and they should be called women.

That much is obvious, but there’s a lot more behind these words. There is a whole ideology of infantilization, and this is only the most visible manifestation of it. It is also one of the least significant, especially since these words have changed in meaning over time, like all words do. The words are symbols emergent from a disease, not the disease.

The infantilization of women takes many forms, from BDSM and DD/lg to mansplaining, the association of women with frivolous pursuits like shopping and shoes while serious things are associated with men, the belief in women as emotional and pre-rational beings, and so on. I have commented about most of these issues on this blog, so I will not repeat myself here.

Infantilization doesn’t just mean equating women with children. As I’ve discussed on the issue of childism, children are associated with wildness, and the need to be tamed and pacified so they can fit within society. Likewise, women have been associated with wildness, although in their case wildness means sexual depravity. So we get things like “girls gone wild,” and the association of “savages” with being oversexed and animalistic.

Some women have reappropriated this and have associated wildness with courage, adventure, and independence in general. But liberal feminists still associate women with being oversexed, by calling all women sluts and whores through the use of the terms “slut-shaming” and “whore-shaming.” Men, of course, also love to link women to oversexed terms, even women who refuse to have sex with them.

But infantilization is not strictly a gender thing. Think of Catholic priests, “fathers,” calling everyone “my child.” God being the “father” of all mankind, and humans as “his” property to dispose of as “he” wills, with violence if “he” finds it necessary. Citizens being the sons and daughters of the motherland/fatherland. People seeing pets as their children. The infantilization of people of color, especially indigenous populations. The paternalistic State. “Childish” being used as an insult: to be like a child is to be “immature,” that is to say, to not conform to social norms, to be disobedient, to remain “wild,” to not be serious or responsible. And while, clearly, not all abusive personal or social relationships are infantilizing, most abusive relationships have some elements of infantilization (e.g. “I really know better than you, so just do what I say”).

You don’t really hear anyone talking about any of these things as childist phenomena, or even as specific phenomena worthy of note (except for the infantilization of people of color, which has been analyzed in The Culture of Conformism, by Patrick Hogan, and probably others places I don’t know about). Childism is the very first hierarchy we experience, albeit not completely consciously, and a case can be made that that experience is where we derive our hierarchical dynamics, with the metaphorical father as the strict dispenser of “discipline” and punishments.

I think childism fits well with other hierarchies because there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that children are actually biologically and mentally inferior. Therefore, treating women or POC like children reinforces the belief that women and POC are biologically or mentally inferior, even to people who may not hold this belief consciously. Likewise, being treated like a child by a superior, whether explicitly or implicitly, is likely to make you feel inferior, incompetent, or irresponsible. And there’s the added bonus that, because we are so unconcerned by childism, infantilization most often passes under the radar. Being treated paternalistically may make you feel frustrated or want to escape the situation, but you’re not likely to jump from there to the concept of infantilization or childism.