Category Archives: Radical feminism

FETAs accusing radfems of essentialism: the ultimate trans projection.

I’ve already shown how FETAs rely massively on projections to defend their transgender ideology. There is, however, one projection that stands above all others for its sheer irrationality: the accusation that radical feminists are essentialists.

Essentialism as applied to human beings refers to the belief that there are fixed attributes of individuals (such as gender, race or ethnicity) which are the “essence” of an individual and dictate behavior (e.g. gender roles, racial stereotypes). This is contrasted with constructionism, the belief that these attributes are social constructs and are not the “essence” of an individual.

FETAs believe that gender is innate and biological sex is a social construct. To be more exact, this is the conclusion they have to uphold in order to maintain their rationalization. They have to believe that there is such a thing as an “innate gender” which dictates how a person thinks and acts in order to make sense of the proposition that a person’s gender is whatever they believe.

And if there is “innate gender” then biology must be swept under the rug. This is why FETAs are also science denialists: they must deny the facts of biology at all costs, and they do so by calling people who uphold those facts of biology “essentialists.” As we’ll see, they use this attack blindly, without actually understanding what essentialism is.

FETAs are essentialists because they believe that an “innate gender” dictates how a person acts, i.e. whether they conform to the man gender stereotype or the woman gender stereotype. That’s why their accusation is a projection: they seek to accuse their opponents of what they’re doing.

Radfems are against essentialism: the radfem position about gender is that gender is a prison, and that neither gender nor sex should imply anything about people’s behavior. Essentialism is a form of authoritarianism, and FETAs are authoritarian supporters (for more on FETA essentialism and radfem anti-essentialism, see this great entry by Women of the Patriarchy).

Cathy Brennan expresses the radfem opposition to sex essentialism in this quote:

What are the behaviors and roles considered appropriate for one’s sex?

If you are a Feminist (even a Liberal Feminist or a Fun Feminist), the answer to this should be “There are no behaviors and roles considered appropriate for my sex because Females can be and do anything.”

So FETAs have to wrangle essentialism from an explicitly and adamantly anti-essentialist position. What kind of mental contortions are necessary for such a pseudo-intellectual magic trick?

This entry from Transadvocate is a good starting point for analysis because it purports to be a very sophisticated attack against radfems on essentialism. Advocates of irrational worldviews trip themselves up when they start talking too much, and this is no exception.

The entry starts with a constructionist quote from Monique Wittig, who was a radical lesbian (precisely the kind of women that FETAs hate with a passion that borders on insanity), discussing how sexual difference leads to the domination of women, and how that domination is portrayed as natural. But the author, Cristan Williams, seems to have confused this radical understanding of sex (as the difference on which oppression of women is based) with the belief that sexing people itself is oppression.

If you strip the pedantic language, this confusion is the same rationalization that many FETAs use to equate radfems with conservatives: conservatives believe in sexual difference, radfems believe in sexual difference, therefore radfems and conservatives have the same agenda.

What they don’t want to discuss is that conservatives believe in sexual difference as the valid (natural) basis for gender (as the Wittig quote illustrates), while radfems acknowledge that sexual difference is the source of the (constructed) oppression of women. Conservatives (and FETAs) hate women and want to keep them enslaved to gender roles, while radfems want to free all women from gender.

You see this equation of radfems with conservatives, with prudes, with moralizers (or even rapists), all over the place. What they want you to believe is simple: anyone who fights for women is just as bad as the people who hate women, anyone who tries to defend women’s freedom is just as bad as the people who want to exploit women. Above all else, they desperately want you to not confront anything and just accept FETA and liberal subjectivist claims as absolute (as bizarre as that sounds).

Williams then directly equates the truth that sex is used to justify gender oppression as natural with the FETA belief that sex does not exist, quoting one Sandy Stone:

What I am saying is that one of the ways that people justify oppressing people of any alternative gender or sexuality is by saying that the social norm is natural. That is, it originates in the authority of Nature itself. In other words, it comes from god, an authority to which to appeal. All of this is, in fact, a complete fabrication, a construction. There is no ‘natural‘ sex, because ‘sex’ itself as a medical or cultural category is nothing more the momentary outcome of battles over who owns the meanings of the category.

Sex is a basic biological concept, and it is natural. Now, as I’ve discussed before, sex is a human concept and, like all human concepts, it is subject to reframing. The issue therefore is not “is sex a transcendent term?” because there’s no such thing. The issue is “does sex actually exist?” and the answer to that is yes. To deny this is just plain science denialism, and believing sex does not exist is no more rational than believing in Creationism or free energy.

While much of the rest of the feminist world is confronting both the causes and effects of oppression, TERFs spend a significant amount of time and energy in preserving, supporting and appealing to a binary sexed body system constitutionally incapable of working with concepts like cis, trans, gender queer, agender, intersex as it relates to reality of human bodies because such views of humanity are supplanted by the asserted preeminence of an ad naturam binary sexed essence.

Radfems are very much concerned with sex, because understanding sex is the basis for analyzing the gender binary. People are assigned gender roles on the basis of their biological differences. The terms “cis” and “trans” cannot lead to any understanding of the gender binary, because they assume a non-existing “gender identity” which is natural and unquestionable. This “gender identity” forms the basis of FETA woman-hatred.

As for the bizarre belief that radfems cannot understand terms like “agender” or “intersex,” I have no idea where that comes from. This is probably an attempt to portray radfems as old hat, passé, a dying breed, and ignorant of anything FETAs consider to be on the “cutting edge” of gender theory.

Phenotype is the physical manifestation of a person. When we hear an anti-trans troll assert that because what is taken to be an acceptably long phallus was discovered at birth, a male sex was established and therefore cannot be changed, they are appealing to a fallaciously constructed concept of phenotype permanence. If a baby is born with a phallus – the phallus being the “essence” of a man – the person is said to have been born a man.

Now Williams degenerates into simple lying. Radfems do not state that a person was “born a man,” let alone on the basis of a penis. No one is “born a man” or “born a woman” (despite the FETA belief in “innate gender”). The labels “man” and “woman” are assigned at birth on the basis of sexual difference, but these terms have no realities apart from the social context. A baby cannot be a man or a woman because it is not yet located within the social context. A person becomes a man or a woman because they are socialized as a man or socialized as a woman.

The phallus is not the “essence of a man.” A man does not act “like a man” because he has a phallus. A man acts “like a man” because he was socialized as a man. The penis is only relevant because it is one of the signs of the male sex, which is then used to assign gender.

The trouble for FETAs is that they must deny the existence of socialization at all costs, because it directly contradicts their religious belief in “innate gender.” They will either deny that socialization happens or deny that it happened to them.

What radfems do say about phenotype is that penises are male. Again, this is a biological fact and denying it is science denialism. FETAs believe that if they imitate the penis with their own flesh, they can become men. But having a penis, or a simulated penis, does not make one a man.

Now, there’s a lot of whining and poisoning the well in these sections. For example, the section “Critiquing the trans essence argument” is mostly one long attempt to portray radfem arguments as silly (calling it a “caricature,” fallacious, hypocrisy, cruel, and so on), but Williams doesn’t explain why it is silly. There is very little attempt at a “critique” here.

The meat of the critique, instead, seems to be in the section “Trans: the non-essenced experience”:

There is no gendered essence haunting the brains of trans women, forcing us to like pink, and gender identity doesn’t just mean social identity.

So here Williams seems to be specifically addressing the issue of FETAs being essentialists. Let’s see what she has to say in response:

When trans people talk about “gender identity” we can be talking about:

A: One’s subjective experience of one’s own sexed attributes;

B: One’s culturally influenced sex identification within the context of a social grouping; or,

C: Both A and B

TERFs like to pretend that “gender identity” only ever means the penultimate Category B because the former and latter deviates from the trans-experience-as-Dualism argument – an anathema for TERFs.

This is one point on which I agree with Williams: the concept that they designate as “gender identity” is purely subjective and culturally constructed, and has no biological reality. But for FETAs to use gender as a replacement for sex, gender has to be innate and immutable.

If that was the extent of “gender identity” for FETAs, then there would be no debate at all, because it makes no claim about reality. It is because FETAs make claims about reality that there is a debate. FETAs claim that sex does not exist, FETAs claims that a person who was socialized man can actually be a woman (and vice-versa), FETAs claim that penises and vaginas are not sexed organs. These are false claims about reality that are important in undermining feminist thought, and they all rely on “innate gender identity” as their support.

Williams then mentions socialization, which is rather surprising in a FETA article since, as I mentioned before, it’s the elephant in the room insofar as their worldview is concerned. But she’s only bringing it up to score a point:

For the TERF, socialization can act as the essential sexed essence stand-in that confers male or female binary status upon the body and as such, it is perfectly acceptable to appeal to it.

But this is a lack of understanding of what essentialism is. An essentialist is someone who believes that there’s something innate in the individual, something in their nature, that dictates their behavior, and socialization is not innate. Therefore it cannot be a “sexed essence stand-in.” All it means is that being socialized into any social construct (such as religion, race or gender) molds people’s behavior. This is an obvious fact. Williams doesn’t even try to address this (rightly, since trying to refute it would just be ridiculous), which is why I say she only brought it up to score a point.

Simply expressed, the role of sex in the genderist mind is to validate and naturalize gender, i.e. behavioral expectations or prescriptions. This is not how radfems talk about socialization: they do not claim that being socialized as a man validates and naturalizes men’s aggression against women, quite the contrary. They are very keenly aware that gender, like any other form of socialization, can be unlearned, something which cannot happen in the essentialist schemas of the genderist and the FETA.

For socialization in a person to be a stand-in for essence, it would have to be, in a meaningful way, part of who the person is. But “being a man” or “being a woman” is not a meaningful identification for many people (including most radfems), not because they are “trans” or “genderqueer” (nonsense concepts in themselves), but because they acknowledge that they were socialized into gender and that it’s not part of who they are.

One last point. Keep in mind that she argued that gender identity is not innate in this very same section when you read this:

Maybe at some point in the future it will become an undisputed scientific fact that trans people experience our bodies in the way that we do as a result of some neurological structure that is triggered due to some genetic/epigenetic causality, but, regardless, the point is that for many trans folk throughout the world, transition is about addressing the way we experience our bodies.

But this directly contradicts her earlier claim. If she believes it is possible for gender identity to be innate, then it cannot be a subjective or cultural construct. She glosses over this with a “regardless,” not realizing the enormity of what she’s just said. That seems to be the one constant of this article: lots of glossing over or gliding over major points of contention, and obsessing over little details meant to portray radfem arguments negatively.

It was hard for me to get through Williams’ article because it is permeated with crass ignorance and arrogance, a pathetic combination. These are the extremities to which a person trapped in an irrational ideology have to resort in order to look credible.

“We’re just holding up a mirror to society.”

This is obviously a reflection of the differences in body armor between men and women on actual battlefields. It’s just a mirror of society, right?

There is a certain view that tries to defend gratuitous violence or bigotry in journalism and the arts by arguing that the artist or journalist is “holding up a mirror to society.”

I accept that the word “gratuitous” depends on the meaning(s) you get from an art work or news piece, so this is a somewhat personal standard. But I think there’s plenty of areas where we can reasonably agree.

I think this expression can mean two things. It can mean an honest examination of how society is working. That’s fine and I accept that. But most of the time, I think it’s used as a justification for reproducing something wrong in society without analyzing it in any way.

What’s wrong with that? It is the same problem as for any other reproduction of abuse and violence: all such reproductions are problematic not only because they perpetuate abuse and violence, but because they normalize them as well, and ultimately provide reinforcement and/or justification for the belief in the validity of abuse and violence against women. This is what pornography does, this is what BDSM does, and this is what uncritical media depictions do.

The expression “holding up a mirror” conveys the narrative that the media merely reflects its ambient society in a diaphanous way, that society influences what the media shows but that the media does not influence society.

This is not only incorrect, but mendacious at best. As I’ve commented before, the media, as primary source of people’s knowledge about the world, is a profound influence on people’s beliefs and attitudes, and it mostly does so in support of existing hierarchies. Besides that, it’s simply insipid to try to cast broadcast corporations as poor victims. Television shows are expensive and these corporations act very carefully in spending their precious air time and money.

People want to deny the responsibility of the media because they want to protect free speech. I’d rather destroy free speech for megacorporations than let them manipulate us through television shows, movies and video games. Corporations have no rights, only individuals do.

Talking about video games, Anita Sarkeesian’s work proves not that video games are replete with misogyny, which we already knew, but that conservatives and liberals are united in their belief that free speech and being able to objectify women are more important than telling the truth about misogyny. Granted, their attitudes are somewhat different, in that conservatives are angry about it (“that stupid bitch deserves to die, etc”) and liberals are more contemptuous (“her videos are full of mistakes, her analysis is very primitive, etc”, but the basic principle is the same.

The tropes that Sarkeesian talks about, like “manic pixie dream girl,” “women in refrigerators,” “the evil demon seductress,” “the mystical pregnancy,” “straw feminists,” “damsel in distress,” “the smurfette principle,” and so on, are tropes which exist in all media, not just video games. Many of them are more or less universal archetypes which can only be understood because of already-existing prejudice.

Another example is Beyonce’s handmaiden status, which was pointed out by bell hooks and was the subject of much controversy in liberal circles who lambasted bell hooks for her analysis. Again we see the same pattern: any criticism of media products, no matter how obvious, is met with opposition from the mainstream because free speech is untouchable.

My point is not that we should gloss over or ignore violence and bigotry, or that every piece of art should be a Saturday morning cartoon special. That’s just infantile. And so is the Christian “analysis” of movies and books typified by Christian Spotlight on Entertainment and ChildCare Action Project (which seems to be gone, unfortunately), judging everything with a literal single-mindedness that is the hallmark of simpletons.

I rag about narratives because they’re used to exploit our imaginary and get us to agree with political positions. But narratives are also a part of being human. Honest narratives, which try to get at the truth of a situation, are part of how we deal with moral and existential issues, connect with other people, expand our horizons, and perhaps most importantly provide us with a shared cultural language of metaphors and analogies to talk about complex issues.

And that’s what I want. Artists who seek the truth of what they portray. Not people who lean heavily on hackneyed tropes and the support for authority to tell a story. Yes, by all means, let’s keep talking about misogyny, racism, rape, verbal and physical abuse, and all the things we despise, because we need to keep talking about them. But do so in an honest and sincere way, not in a way that reinforces existing stereotypes, gender roles or false beliefs.

We don’t need more women in refrigerators. We also don’t need more “strong women.” We just need, well, women. We don’t need a mirror. We need people who are willing to actively engage issues and acknowledge their own role. We need equals.

Parents policing each other.

I’ve posted this story before, but I think it deserves more examination. Not from the angle of gender, but from the angle of childism: if you look at it from that angle, there’s some interesting things going on here.

Most salient is the fact that the childist enforcement was done by parents to other parents, and the children were not involved at all. That is to say, the hostile parents did not blame the child for wanting to wear the dress, they blamed the parents of the child for letting him wear the dress.

This point makes sense if you remember that, in the childist perspective, children’s values are irrelevant; in that context, it would make no more sense to blame a child for wanting to wear a dress (and breaking gender rules by doing so) than it would to blame one tree for shading another. The parents, being responsible for raising their children “right,” are responsible for keeping the child in line within its gender role.

Obviously parents put pressure on their children to conform, but the desire to do this comes not only from the parents’ own gender indoctrination, but also from the desire to have “well-behaved children” and the fear of being seen as “bad parents.” What you have to keep in mind (given my antinatalist position, I assume my readers are probably not parents) is that parenting is a highly social activity. Parents pretty much have to cooperate with other parents, and in doing so they judge, and are judged by, the other parents.

Parents also perceive the behavior of other parents out in the world and judge them for letting their children “run amok.” So they don’t want their own children to “run amok.” In short, parents evaluate how well they are doing by judging how well other parents are doing, and they do so by looking at how “well-behaved” the children are.

Note how masculinity factors into it: the father was blamed for being emasculated because he didn’t “put his foot down” in this situation and enforced gender roles on his “son.” As the father, he is expected to stand up for his “son” and raise him right, just as mothers are expected to keep her “daughters” in line and are the primary enforcers of gynocidal measures. In folk psychology, people talk about how “boys” need “father figures”: I think this is part of the same belief.

Furthermore, I find it interesting that the whole “men are irresponsible” principle completely goes to the wayside where gender enforcement is concerned. Then the father is supposed to be responsible.

Now you might say that all of this does not apply to the parents in this story since, after all, they let their “son” wear a dress. I don’t know anything else about the parents in question, so I can’t really judge their behavior. I’m talking about general principles, not this specific case. It may very well be that these parents are part of the group of parents who futilely try to raise their children without gender roles (although the fact that they identify it as “son” seems to contradict that).

For most parents, raising a child is all about them, and in having children they are fulfilling their needs, not those of the child. They enforce gender not for the child’s sake but for their sake: because they don’t want to lose face, because they want a “normal” child, because they want their progeny to reproduce in turn.

The mainstream childist attitude is that either the parents or the media are the primary influence on their children. Here is an example:

There are a number of problems with this, the most prominent being that it’s a false dichotomy. Parents and the corporate world (including the mass media) are always both involved in a child’s upbringing, if a child is to exist in society at all. But the role of such arguments is to justify and reinforce the parental claim of property: without it, we might as well just let anyone raise our children, so the story goes. But this is mindless nonsense, especially given how bad parents usually are at child-raising.

Gender indoctrination accompanies a whole host of thought control guidelines used against children. I’ve previously named three:

* The child must appear “normal.”
* The child must be ready to compete against their peers, either as students or as workers.
* The child must be “intelligent” and competent.

The difference, I think, is that the above guidelines serve a verifiable purpose (so the child can be “successful”) and therefore can be shown to be wrong-headed. Gender indoctrination, on the other hand, has no further aim beyond enforcing gender: as long as a person follows the dictates of his or her gender, the indoctrination “worked.” But since gender indoctrination is perpetuated not only by the parents but by the child’s whole environment, one can hardly say that parenting was the cause of this “success.”

Pornsickness and how it’s reproduced.

Many studies on pornography have concluded that even light pornography usage leads to a number of deleterious personality changes, such as agreeing with rape myths, supporting rapists, having less respect for women’s boundaries, and child sexual abuse. The cause-and-effect relation between pornography usage and these changes is well understood: images affect behavior, especially when they are linked to a powerful conditioning tool (in this case, orgasm).

Abusers and rapists of all kinds not only cultivate violent and misogynistic personalities from pornography, but pornography changes the way they abuse women. Younger women and prostituted women report that men want to perform sexual acts on them which imitate acts popularized by pornography. This abuse becomes itself pornography and feeds the cycle of abuse.

These are the main symptoms of pornsickness from a psychological standpoint. There are also a number of intellectual symptoms, which affect even the most well-intentioned pornography users:

* They believe that pornography is representative of authentic sexuality, and that pornography teaches us how to express authentic sexuality. Even so-called “sex experts” propagate this delusion. Pornography is a manufactured product, engineered for profit by people who have no scruples exploiting the abuse and rape of women. Their purpose is to make money from pretending to reproduce sexuality, but they have no incentive to actually do so.

* They believe that anyone who is against pornography must therefore be against all sexuality. But as the comparison has been made time and time again, that makes about as much sense as thinking that anyone who opposes McDonalds’ business practices must be against food. This is a great analogy because the relation between fast food and food is very similar to that between pornography and sexuality: like McDonalds food, pornography is a manufactured, formulaic, flavorless, unhealthy simulacrum of the real thing, and its manufacture and sale is bad for society as a whole (albeit for different reasons).

* Because pornography portrays abuse and violence as healthy sexuality, users incorporate violence against women in their notions of what an acceptable relationship is about. Since consent is rarely ever portrayed or respected in pornography, it’s also easy for them to accept the notion that non-consent is sexy and that consent is unnecessary for sex (as the rape culture and BDSM testify). A process of desensitization, which we know happens when people are repeatedly exposed to depicted violence, happens whereby users need more and more violent pornography in order to “get off.”

* They become desensitized not just to increasingly violent sexual acts, but also to the hate speech that is endemic to pornographic narratives (such as they are) and pornographic descriptions, which consists not only of extreme misogyny but also racism and classism.

Ground zero for for all indoctrination, for all conditioning, for all exploitation, is always childhood. Due to the rise of the Internet, children first become victims of pornography at an average age of 11 years old. What they first see has also changed: no longer the Playboys or old videos hidden by their fathers, but what used to be called “hardcore pornography,” and is now just pornography.

Some of them will become porn addicts and some won’t. Some boys raised up on pornography will grow up to be rapists and some won’t. But they grow up thinking this is what sex is like (and will try to implement it on their sexual partners). They grow up with pornsickness. And they will support pornography with the determination that anyone would defend something they’ve grown up with and have come to associate with their maturation.

In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries caused by frequent anal sex; not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

Her patients were deeply ashamed at presenting with such injuries. They had lied to their mums about it and felt they couldn’t confide in anyone else, which only added to their distress. When Sue questioned them further, they said they were humiliated by the experience, but they had simply not felt they could say no. Anal sex was standard among teenagers now, even though the girls knew that it hurt.

Despite the continued mainstreaming of “official” feminism, the pro-pornstitution rhetoric is increasingly self-perpetuating because its materials stand ready to indoctrinate generation after generation. Support for pornstitution results from this indoctrination, not as a result of “agency.” To argue the latter is as silly as claiming that religious beliefs are the result of “agency” and that the correlation between one’s religion and that of one’s parents is a complete coincidence.

It is well understood by feminists that censoring pornography will not resolve the issue of woman-hatred. The fact that pornsickness is rooted in childhood indoctrination provides us with both the cause and the solution.

I’m not interested in a world where men really want to watch porn but resist because they’ve been shamed; I’m interested in a world where men are raised from birth with such an unshakable understanding of women as living human beings that they are incapable of being aroused by their exploitation.
Huff Yup

Despite what the pro-pornstitution advocates repeat over and over like a broken record, free speech is not the issue. Misogyny is the issue. The real abuse of real women is the issue. Genderism is the issue. And how widespread pornography turns boys into men is very much part of all these issues.

The layers of rationalization for prejudice.

In this entry, I gave a series of stages which, I’ve now realized, represent the layers of rationalizations that support prejudice. These layers are not the same for each prejudice, though. In the case of gender, I presented the following five layers:

1. Gender is innate.
2. Gender is so ingrained in the fabric of society that it cannot be eliminated.
3. Gender can be abolished, but the results would be catastrophic.
4. Gender can be abolished, but it would destroy individuality.
5. Abolishing gender is bigoted because it would go against people’s self-identification.

I think you could make the case that replacing gender with race would yield a pretty accurate account of racism, except for point 5 (or at least, we haven’t gone to the insanity of self-identifying as other races yet). But in this case there are notions of ethnicity and culture complicating the picture, and this mono-concept list can’t convey that.

In general, we can say that there are levels of justifications that exist in all prejudices: first the biological level, then the social level, then the individual level; bigots will argue first that their prejudice is a biological fact (an innate property of the individual), then that it is necessary for society to function, then that it exists for the individuals’ benefit. Before the intellectual impact of the Renaissance, religious dogma would have been the first step (“God made women to serve men,” “God created the black race as a curse”).

[M]ost people are susceptible to the argument that if a difference between men and women has a biological basis, it is inevitable (‘you can’t argue with nature’), desirable (‘what’s natural is good’), and the world should be organized around it.

Deborah Cameron, The Myth of Mars and Venus

These levels are not separate and individualized: they form a self-reinforcing network of justifications.

Take the example of genderism again. As a form of linear logic, the belief that women are inherently passive, emotional and caring leads to the belief that society is best organized along gender lines with men being the leaders and women being nurturers. This belief, in turn, leads to the belief that women are better off when they follow instead of lead, when they have lower-paying nurturing jobs, when they busy themselves with children. It also leads to the secondary benefits of women subordinating themselves (e.g. they don’t have to succeed, they are supported by a husband, they are admired for their beauty, and so on and so nauseatingly forth).

But the logic also flows in the reverse fashion. When a man observes a woman who follows her gender role, runs a “successful” family (the large family being of course the end point of genderism, the black hole where all individuality is absorbed), and seems to live a happy life, he therefore concludes that society is better off when men and women follow these gender roles, and that there must be something innate in men and women to make them happy in these roles.

Racism follows the same linear logic. The belief that black people are inherently deficient in intellect and inherently violent leads to the belief in physical and intellectual ghettoisation (and its moneyed cousin, gentrification), which leads to the belief that it is right for black people to be underemployed and underpaid, overrepresented in prisons, brutalized by police, executed, and so on, that this inequality is the result of individual (innate) flaws and not of systemic capitalist oppression.

Likewise, any instance of a black person being brutalized by police serves as “evidence” (because of the belief in obedience) that black people deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, and this must be because they have some innate moral deficiency.

I have previously highlighted three main lines of rationalization for childism:

1. Children are not physically developed, therefore they are not mentally developed and are incapable of moral reasoning, decision-making, figuring out what’s true and what’s not, and so on.

2. Children are dependent on adults for their survival, therefore children are inferior, therefore children must be controlled for their own good.

3. Children are inherently gullible and believe anything their parents say, because evolution made them that way.

Each of these rationalizations can easily be translated into layers of rationalization:

Biological necessity: Children are not mentally developed/ Children are dependent on adults for their survival/ Children are inherently gullible.

Social necessity: We must have a system whereby children are under the control of some (arbitrary) adults.

Individual necessity: Children will thereby be taught how to become moral agents/ Children will develop “correctly”/ Children will be taught the “correct” beliefs (whatever these are supposed to be).

Because there have been no widespread criticism of these claims, we are still at a stage similar to that time when everyone accepted the claim that women were made by God to serve men, or when the belief that black people had inferior craniums and were best served by slavery was accepted in slave countries. Although there are movements against schooling, and there are laws against physical violence committed by parents, childism has not yet been put into question.

If emancipation can be defined, dixit George Fredrickson in Racism: A Short History, as “the process of elevating the civil and political status of an entire ethnic or racial group from legal inferiority to equal citizenship,” then emancipation takes a whole new meaning in childism (even though children are not an ethnic or racial group, they are a discriminated group), not simply to be reserved for individual children: children as a dispossessed class need to be emancipated, given equal citizenship, but this will not be possible until they are first given equal humanity.

The natural sort of attack to make on these rationalizations is to argue that the so-called biological necessity is quackery, based on the flimsiest pretense of science. Certainly this was a fruitful line of attack against pseudo-sciences like anthropometry, IQ racism, sociobiology, and against our current enemies, evolutionary psychology and innate (brain) gender.

However, the layer model points to the fact that there are many possible vectors of attack, not just one. We know this is true because people have testified that knowing gay people have changed their opinions about homosexuality. I don’t know what influence this really had on gay rights, but it doesn’t seem negligeable. Seeing the evidence that women, POC or gay people can be better than the dominant classes can be as salient as the rejection of biological necessity.

The problem for childism is that children are virtually never encountered in a context without control. We almost always see children when they are either under the direct control of their parents (or guardians) or teachers. Prejudice against children and women shares one crucial property: the victims generally live with their oppressors, although there are many more single women or lesbian couples than there are emancipated children.

This is especially problematic because individuals from oppressed groups need independent safe spaces in order to first become aware of their status as a class, and then to develop theories and solutions about their oppression. Without this process, oppression remains normalized and there can be no systemic understanding of its nature.

The belief in “good porn” and “happy hookers.”

If you look hard enough, you can find a “good side” to pretty much anything; but morality is not a mathematical operation by which you can compensate for the infliction of harm with some act of charity. The example I like to give is that of a doctor who saves a patient’s life and then punches him while he’s in recovery. Saving a life doesn’t nullify the punch.

Christian sects like to flaunt their charitable activities as if it gave them moral credit. Many corporations also try to cover up their unsavory activities with charity. In general, anyone who has things to hide can use charity or some good cause as a cover for evil.

In general, people think that by pointing at a “good side” in something, they’ve somehow compensated for all the bad. You get the natalists who say “but there’s so much good in life, surely that compensates for the suffering.” But again, this is not a mathematical equation. Good and evil exist in their own right and do not cancel out.

In the realm of pornstitution advocacy, good is seen as canceling out bad, too. Take the rhetoric of “good pornography.” Why does it matter that there is such a thing as “good pornography”? However much there is of this animal, it is still dwarfed by “bad pornography.” It could only matter if the “good pornography” somehow countered the “bad pornography” and made pornography itself acceptable.

But now here’s a deeper problem, which strikes at the root of the concept of pornography. If we had criteria for what “good pornography” is, I would assume that it would include things like “this pornography was not a product of rape,” “this pornography was not a product of coercion” and “this pornography was made by people who set out to do work in pornography.”

Woman after woman coming out of the pornography industry testify that they were coerced into performing specific sexual acts, or even raped on set. We know that around half of prostituted women have been filmed for the purposes of producing pornography. We also know that “revenge porn” is a new trend on the Internet, and that private videos which appear to be completely consensual are being reposted without consent.

Given all these known facts, the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no guarantee whatsoever that any piece of pornography actually fulfills reasonable criteria for “good pornography”! And this means that “good pornography” is a nonstarter as a concept. If something cannot be determined to exist, then it is a purely theoretical entity and there’s no point in assuming its reality, let alone using it in an argument.

i don’t trust men who ask “but what about ______ kind of porn?” when i point out how rampant rape and abuse is in the porn industry…

anytime you reblog, like, or watch porn, you are taking a chance that what you are viewing is rape…

every instagram account that you follow run by a porn company (suicide girls, pornhub, brazzers, redtube, crash pad) statistically, has hired rapists and abusers who knowingly violated the contracts of the women signed to their companies. these companies are run by misogynists who don’t care about women and surprise! they hire men who don’t care about women.

It’s important to note that a majority of men are conditioning themselves to orgasm watching women potentially being raped or abused. And, reinforcing this, the inferiority of women is the primary (although not the only) message encoded in these videos. Pornography and macho culture encourage men to think of sex as a process of domination, and that there’s something wrong (feminized) with you if you don’t participate.

It’s also important to note that even corporations which are known for their softer and more unconventional approach to pornography, such as Crash Pad and Abby Winters, are guilty of unethical practices (such as hiring underage actresses and male rapists). While such corporations may be more trustworthy than the big pornographic producers, who oppose basic safety laws and operate in criminal conditions, they still cannot be trusted to produce ethical pornographic videos (if such a thing can exist).

The other stereotype is that of the “happy hooker.” It is stunning to compare the claims made about representatives for the pornography industry and the claims of ex-actresses after they leave the industry. It is also stunning to compare what is claimed about prostituted women (the “happy hooker” myth) and what ex-prostituted women say.

This stereotype has become so pervasive amongst liberal pornstitution advocates that they are applying it to child trafficking. The entry, believe it or not, contends that children who are trafficked into prostitution are not badly off:

Using ethnographic research from Atlantic City and New York City, Anthony Marcus, Chris Thomas, and Amber Horning find that underage sex workers have much more agency in their relationships with pimps than many assume, and that sex trafficking discourses may serve to further alienate them from organizations to assist them…

There are, of course, violent and otherwise abusive pimps: approximately 5 percent of the pimps in the pimp study described such an approach to pimping. Among the 14 percent of female sex workers in the New York Sex study who had pimps, we estimate that approximately 10–15 percent faced such systematic abuse. In Atlantic City we were able to identify three such relationships between a young sex worker and a pimp. These findings suggest that roughly 2 percent of all the sex workers whom we interviewed, across both cities, were in a relationship with a predominantly abusive, violent pimp.

Overall, though, we found a clear pattern of increasing, rather than decreasing, levels of young sex workers’ autonomy over time. As the sex workers in our survey became more experienced, more mature, and more accustomed to the dangers of customers and law enforcement, their pimp’s authority typically receded and a more equal relationship developed, or the sex worker simply left the pimp. Similarly, most of the pimps whom we met were realistic about the limits of their authority and did not want to lose the source of their livelihood. At all levels, pimps were constantly faced with the danger of being abandoned for another pimp, an escort agency, or independent work.

You will note that in all the studies presented, there is one obvious factor that is not discussed: whether these children were coerced into prostitution. All that is discussed is “how youth got initiated” into prostitution, with categories of answers such as “friend,” “pimp” and “homeless,” which do not actually indicate the “how.”

The topic of the article is how the narrative of “young prostituted women abused by pimps” should be replaced by something closer to the “happy hooker” narrative, with an extra dash of “agency” into the mix.

It does not matter at all how much “agency” prostituted children have. It does not matter at all how the pimps are affected. To be clear, I have nothing against fact-finding, but I object to the political spin based on “agency,” which is a made-up concept used to blame victims of systemic exploitation. To paint children who were trafficked into prostitution as worthy of being blamed is especially heinous. To portray their exploitation as a source of freedom is laughable.

But most importantly, buying an underage prostituted woman’s “services” is, well, rape. Calling them “sex workers” reinforces the liberal narrative of the “happy hooker” and obscures the fact that they are human beings who are raped on a daily basis.

1.) Referring to underaged sex trafficking victims as “underaged sex workers.” Especially if they are immigrants; then they are referred to as “(underaged) migrant sex workers.” I can’t believe this even needs to be said: If a prostitute is discovered to be a minor, that makes her a sex trafficking/rape victim, no matter what.

The fact is that 71% of prostituted women were physically assaulted, 89% want to leave but cannot, and 68% suffer from PTSD. Furthermore, 70% say they were sexually abused in childhood and that this abuse had some influence in their entry in prostitution. That is the reality of prostitution worldwide. Yes, there are “happy hookers,” but they do not represent the experience of a majority of women in prostitution. The narrative is broken.

Where are the liberals when ex-actresses come out and expose the coercion and rapes during shoots? Where are the liberals when ex-prostituted women tell us about their experiences? They either hide their heads and hope the evidence goes away, or they support organizations run by pornographic corporations and pimps.

How to bungle up anti-genderism, with puppet “feminist” Noah Berlatsky.

Noah Berlatsky, the sleazy Playboy writer who calls himself a “feminist” and thinks women only matter when they give him erections.

Playboy writer and all-around puppet “feminist” Noah Berlatsky has written a contemptible article decrying anti-genderism, with all the usual straw men and hand-wringing. I am only interested in what Berlatsky has to say insofar as it reflects the commonplace “intellectual” views about anti-genderism, and if the conversation is to advance on this topic, we need to debunk this nonsense thoroughly.

The first issue that confronts us is, what is anti-genderism? What does it mean to abolish gender? In order to do so, we need to have a good understanding of what gender is. Unfortunately, Berlatsky, like most “intellectuals” who deign to discuss this topic, does not:

The problem here is a conceptual error. Radical feminists look at gender oppression and say, we must abolish gender. But it’s not the gender that’s the problem: It’s the oppression. Gender standards—and standards of genderlessness—are used to declare that certain gender expressions are wrong. Wearing heels, being gay, being trans, reading romance novels—if you perform gender in a certain way, you are unnatural or stupid or corrupt, and can be sneered at, or at worst, subject to violence.

This demonstrates a complete confusion on the subject being discussed, because Berlatsky thinks that 1. you can dissociate gender from oppression, and 2. that gender standards are about “expressions” (I assume he was grasping for the word “performance” and failed).

First, “gender” cannot be dissociated from “gender oppression.” Gender is a hierarchy and its purpose is the oppression of one class by another. The exploitation of women’s sexuality, labor, and dependence (by men) is tied with, and cannot be dissociated from, the dominant ideology which says that women can be objectified and silenced without any repercussions. Leaving this ideology untouched leaves only the possibility of fighting against specific forms of gender oppression.

Radical feminists reject this option because, as radicals, they seek to strike at the root of the problem, and that root is gender. Berlatsky can only say “it’s not the gender that’s the problem” because he believes in a fairy tale version of gender which is entirely, following Judith Butler’s postmodernism, framed in terms of performativity and subjectivity.

This leads us to the second point. Berlatsky’s worldview leads him to adopt a straw man view of anti-genderism where “gender expressions” are prohibited, things like “wearing heels, being gay, being trans, reading romance novels.”

But this has nothing to do with anti-genderism at all. Anti-genderism has to do with being against gender, which implies the association of certain traits or actions with superiority or inferiority. It’s not “wearing heels” that’s the problem, from an anti-genderist perspective, it’s the association of “wearing heels” with “being fuckable.” There is nothing wrong with “being gay,” but there is something wrong with associating “being gay” with “being an inferior man/woman.” Same for “being trans” or “reading romance novels.”

Berlatsky follow the common trope that a genderless society would be a fascistic society where everyone has to be the same. But this is pure projection. Genderist societies are the ones that put a great emphasis on gender conformity, and where people are socialized into that conformity from day 1. A hypothetical genderless society would be one where everyone can dress, act and love the way they want, without feeling like they have to conform to a gender role.

No female child would be called a tomboy and no male child would be called a sissy. No kid would ever be bullied for what we in our gendered world call “gender expression”…

And everyone would be free to be themselves without ever having to worry about gender expectations. Nobody would feel the need to repress certain parts of their personality and exaggerate others in order to fit into some gender role that is being forced on them.

Gender abolitionism is not about restricting people’s choices but about giving them greater freedom.

* Males and females will be able to act however the fuck they want (men might want to wear dresses, makeup, speak in a higher pitched voice; women might not want to wear any makeup, might not shave anywhere, might have short hair).

* The socialization of future generations will be a huge advantage. Males and females will not grow up with pre-determined interests, expectations, clothing, personalities, etc. there will be no more ‘what a cute little girl, let’s buy her baby borns and adorn her in beautiful little dresses’…

Getting rid of the box (gender) is the only way for complete liberation from gender’s shackles. Creating a million more genders (frog-kin, pixies, furries, candle-kin and shit like that??) WILL NOT end anything.

Genderless means no gender roles. Pretty simple, no? But to Berlatsky, this is unfathomable because everyone performs and therefore everyone always has a gender: so he equates a genderless society with a fascistic system where there’s only one gender role. Interestingly, he associates that fascist gender role with masculinity, which doesn’t make much sense for someone who outright rejects the gender hierarchy.

I think we’ve already seen why Berlatsky’s analysis fails: these two points are fundamental to understanding genderism (and anti-genderism) and he’s failed both. This has major consequences for the rest of his article.

Radical feminists often argue that we need to get rid of the “gender binary”—but in practice that seems to mean not getting rid of gender so much as getting rid of specifically feminine gender expression.

This is absolutely incorrect. I’ve never read any radical feminist advocating getting rid of the “gender binary,” for the simple reason that there’s no such thing as the “gender binary.” Gender is a hierarchy, not a binary. Berlatsky’s basic ignorance of the subject again shows through.

Gender is not some cosmic yin/yang; it’s a fist, and the flesh that bruises.
Lierre Keith

Radical feminism, and anti-genderism, are not about getting rid of any “gender binary” or of any “gender expression.” But I’ve already covered that part.

Genderlessness, then, isn’t so much different from the gender we’ve got—which makes sense when you think about it. Our current gendered system is based on a universal misogynist standard; maleness is good, everything not male is bad. The genderless ideal wants to abolish gender in the name of “no gender.” But when you do that “no gender” becomes the standard itself. And, since in our society, maleness—as the standard—is unmarked, “no gender,” by default, just ends up being that standard of maleness all over again.

Our gendered male standard says that femininity is frivolous and stupid and ugly and debased. And the genderless utopia standard says that femininity is frivolous and stupid and ugly and debased. “No gender” means don’t wear heels.

This is basically the culmination of all of Berlatsky’s very basic confusion and ignorance, which would have been easily solved if he had taken the time to ask just one radical feminist about their position.

This quote is truly mind-boggling. I think I’ve already identified the source of the blind confusion being displayed here: Berlatsky believes a genderless society means one fascistic gender role because he cannot actually imagine people living without gender roles; he cannot imagine people without gender roles because he equates gender role with performance, and everyone performs in some way or another.

Berlatsky’s irrational ideology has painted him in a corner, and he cannot get out of it. He is literally unable to understand the first thing on the very topic he writes about. It’s hard to take this whole thing seriously at all. Some people have suggested that Berlatsky is engaged in performance art demonstrating the irrationality of liberalism. Unfortunately that would require intelligence, a quality he has not yet exhibited.

Utopia, then, is not a world in which there is no gender. Rather, utopia is a world in which there are a wide variety of genders and gendered expressions, all of which are seen as equally true, and equally acceptable. Gender of all sorts would ideally be as unmarked, and unremarked, as whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. You’d notice if someone was male or female or both or neither, but it wouldn’t be defining, and wouldn’t carry with it a weight of expectations, anger, censure, and potential violence.

Again, this is a repetition of previous errors. There is no such thing as gender which does not entail conformity and expectations, because gender is a hierarchy and all hierarchies foster conformity. It does not matter if we have two genders, three genders, or forty genders: gender systems are all hierarchical, no matter how many genders they have (this is also why Berlatsky’s “one gender role” straw man makes no sense: you can’t have a hierarchy with only one group).

Liberal feminists have been pushing for diversity of genders and sexual orientations. They honestly believe that gender is not oppressive in itself, and that by multiplying the number of accepted genders they will bring about acceptance of all the kinds of people that are out there. But multiplying the prison cells is not the way to utopia, it’s only the way to more customizable prison cells.

When non-feminists or liberal feminists address the issue of gender abolition, they cannot confront the basic fact that gender is oppression and that they are supporting oppression. Therefore they have to use straw men and projections to get around that fact.

Gender serves two crucial roles in liberal feminism:

1. Gender is a part of arousal, especially for people who were raised on pornography. We can never expect pornsick men (since he writes for Playboy, it is very likely that Berlatsky is in this category) to accurately write about gender or genderism because they are addicted to representations of highly gendered sexuality.

2. Gender is a part of self-identification: we see our status as man or woman as an essential part of who we are. As their ideology is fundamentally subjectivist, liberal feminists use self-identification as their sole standard of how to label people.

But even from a subjectivist standard, self-identification is not, and cannot, be authentic self-expression because the way we identify ourselves is the product of socialization and indoctrination. For this argument to work, self-identification (including self-identification of one’s gender) would have to be irreducible, but it clearly is not.

If there’s any piece to the puzzle that they’re just completely missing, it has to be socialization. FETAs rarely address socialization, and when they do, it’s to simply deny its existence or minimize it. The liberal concept of gender completely denies the existence of socialization and starts from the premise that the experience of gender is irreducible and necessary.

A genderless society cannot be achieved without profound changes in the way we socialize children and the way we treat each other as adults. It’s much, much easier to play “multiply the genders” and “explode the gender binary.” But all we’re doing with this nonsense is customizing oppression to fit every mind, and reinforcing existing socialization by pointing out how necessary and important gender is, by making it into something that every person should be intimately concerned with and needs to connect with.

Berlatsky believes that conformity to the “binary” is the source of gender oppression. This is, frankly, a gross insult to all women who have actually experienced gender oppression. Conformity to the “binary” is not the oppression, it is the tool that makes actual oppression of women (gynocide, social and political control over women’s bodies, widespread rape and VAW, prostitution, pornography, sexual harassment, workplace inequality, etc) possible.

Gender is not a performance and it’s not a binary; it’s the fist that hits and the flesh that bruises. Multiplying the variety of fists will not preserve the flesh.

Here’s a wild idea: what if, instead of creating 100 new genders and making people even more confused about themselves, we just get rid of this whole ‘gender-idea’ and raise boys and girls the same way and treat women and men the same way and just let everyone wear, do and act however they want, without making them think that something is wrong with them.

The rhetoric that the inferiors are “really” in control.

I’ve written a previous entry on the myth of female power, especially as related to “sex workers.” My main point there was that objectification is not real power.

This is all based on the justification that “the inferiors are really in control,” that the inferiors are “empowered” by being able to choose how and when to give away their freedom. As Huff Yupp (a male ally) says, “[t]he modern definition of empowerment seems to be ‘Give the oppressor what he wants before he can take it – that way, it was your choice.’” Some incredibly indoctrinated men may even consider rape as a form of empowerment.

I have progressively come to realize that this refrain is not limited to “sex workers” and other obvious cases of objectification but is actually a pretty common rationalization used across the board, insofar as gender and sexual activity are concerned.

So take the idea of women as sexual gatekeepers. Men innately want sex and women innately do not want sex, therefore women are “in control” of sex; by remaining celibate they are free to choose the best man to marry, and men have to accept that state of affairs. Under that framework, any woman who does not want a man is just aberrant.

Women are the victims of widespread sexual abuse and rape, partially on the basis of the gatekeeper belief. But according to that belief, women are really the ones in control because they can dictate the terms of sexual activity. So there’s the “inferiors have control” justification.

Now take weaponized femininity, the concept that got me started onto these connections. Weaponized femininity is a liberal feminist concept which promotes femininity, not as submission but as a weapon, that femininity performed within a feminist worldview can be “empowering.”

Weaponized femininity can serve to make libfems feel better about performing femininity due to the strong and constant social pressures they are subjected to, and I do not mean to attack that comfort at all. But it leads to a confusion between actual power and secondary gains: yes, being able to get the rewards, such as they are, for performing is a good thing, but it is a result of women’s inferior status.

It only makes sense to say that “Beyonce feminism” is empowering precisely because record artists like Beyonce can reap the rewards of fame and money from their feminine submission. Average women, let alone disabled or marginalized women, are not in a position to do so. Weaponized femininity is just a broader version of the “sex workers have power over their customers” rhetoric.

Now look at this belief, widespread amongst BDSM advocates, that “subs are really in control.” I think this also follows the same pattern of rationalization than the other examples. It’s all about the inferior (the sub) being “really in control” because they are the gatekeepers, in this case because they can use their safe word to stop the sexual acts at any time.

But this is a stupid argument. Everyone has the right to say “no” to a sexual encounter at any time, so safe words are merely window dressing, a reinforcement of the notion of safety to distract from what’s really going on.

A comparison may be useful here. Abused women can also “leave any time they want.” Of course they usually don’t do so because leaving is more dangerous for their safety than staying, but one could argue that they are just as much “in control” of the abuse as a sub.

Now I know that BDSM advocates want to tell you that BDSM is not physical abuse, sexual abuse or rape, and that it’s perfectly safe and everyone in BDSM is happy. While we know that’s a lie, and there are plenty of former BDSMers to confirm the failings of the BDSM cult, we also know that the actions performed are physically equivalent to physical and sexual abuse, and victims of BDSM exhibit the same mental damage as victims of abuse.

I realize that it may seem a long way to go from women as sexual gatekeepers to BDSM abuse, but they all partake of the same basic justification: that the submissive party is really in control either because they perform their submission well and get something out of it (“sex workers,” weaponized femininity) or because they have “veto power” (women as gatekeepers, BDSM).

What creates some confusion, I think, is that getting some money or having a veto over some interaction are, in the abstract, both forms of power. So it may seem as if they are both “empowering.” But if you don’t look at the situation in a purely abstract sense and instead look at it in its context, as part of a hierarchical system, then the illusion disappears.


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