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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

If this is feminism...

(this was meant to be posted yesterday but wasn't, resulting in 2 links posts in a row)

If this is feminism...

"The dust-up on social media over Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In Defense of Transracialism” published in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, has given a new meaning to the public/private split central to the history of feminism. For decades, feminists have argued the personal is political, and explored the politics of our private lives. The split between what people wrote to both Rebecca Tuvel and to me in private, and what they felt compelled to say in public is one indication that the explosion of personal insults and vicious attacks on social media is symptomatic of something much bigger than the actual issues discussed in Tuvel’s article...

[Some] supported Tuvel in private while actually attacking her in public. In private messages, these people apologized for what she must be going through, while in public they fanned the flames of hatred and bile on social media. The question is, why did so many scholars, especially feminists, express one sentiment behind closed doors and another out in the open? Why were so many others afraid to say anything in public?...

Tuvel claimed that the very public cases of Rachel Dolezal’s transracial transition and Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender transition operate according to a similar logic when it comes to thinking about identity and identity politics. Tuvel argued in favor of both transgender and transracial identities, as well as for a more fluid conception of identity more generally. In subsequent responses to her critics, Tuvel has said her article was a response to the media sentiment that transgender identity is socially acceptable (Jenner was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, was a runner-up for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”, and was named woman of the year by Glamour magazine), while transracial identity is taboo (Dolezal was fired from her job at the NAACP and scorned in the media)...

The feeding frenzy in response to Tuvel’s article couldn’t have happened without social media. The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook. Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public. Some who in private were sympathetic to Tuvel, felt compelled to join in the attacking mob. The thought police were in full force. Both Tuvel and the journal were under pressure to retract the article and apologize. In a private message to me, one of my academic friends said one editor’s Facebook apology for publishing such an “offensive” article, “sounded like something ISIS makes its captors read in a hostage video before beheading them.” Joking aside, there was (and still is) tremendous pressure to condemn Tuvel and her article. Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article... I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it...

I summoned up the courage and entered the fray suggesting only that Hypatia invite critical responses to the article. This suggestion was met with ridicule and derision. I then asked critics to respond with philosophical arguments rather than lobbing insults, which was met with claims that I was doing “violence” to marginalized scholars.

The most vocal figures on social media claimed they were harmed, even traumatized, by Tuvel’s article, and by my defense of its right to exist. Some said that Tuvel’s article harmed them, and I was doing violence to them, even triggering PTSD, just by calling for an open discussion of, and debate over, the arguments in the article. While I readily agree that words can do harm and that hate speech exists, my call for philosophical engagement with Tuvel’s article does not constitute harmful speech. In fact, if an essay that openly supports trans identity does violence, and defense of open debate causes PTSD, then by which name should we call the physical violence inflicted on trans people and others daily? What of the PTSD caused by domestic violence, rape, and hate crimes? If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning? Certainly, at the very least, we need to distinguish between levels of violence. One Facebook critic called my remarks “unforgivable,” seemingly putting them on par with crimes against humanity. At this point in the social media blowout, (until the Daily Nous published a defense of the article, which elicited support from all sides) I seemed to be the only one publicly defending Tuvel, in spite of the private support she received from folks too afraid to go public.

Through every medium imaginable, senior feminist scholars were pressuring, even threatening, Tuvel that she wouldn’t get tenure and her career would be ruined if she didn’t retract her article. When I called out the worst insulters for threatening an untenured junior feminist, they claimed they were the victims here not her. I wonder. Tuvel’s article in support of transgender and transracial identities didn’t threaten anyone, and didn’t jeopardize anyone’s career. Whereas those calling for a retraction were doing just that to a junior woman in a field, philosophy, nearly 80% of which is still populated by men and which is still resistant to feminism. A senior feminist philosopher called to warn Tuvel that she should be appealing to the “right people” if she wanted to get tenure and warned her not to publish her book on this topic or it would ruin her career and mark her as “all that is wrong with white feminism”...

Apparently, Tuvel’s worst offense was the “deadnaming” of Caitlyn Jenner. Deadnaming is using a trans person’s birth name instead of their chosen name, which can do harm when outing a person as trans, or when that person considers their old self or old name “dead.” I was fiercely attacked on Facebook for pointing out that Jenner is a public figure, a Reality TV star, who doesn’t reject deadnaming herself in her book: “Transgender guidelines suggest that I no longer be referred to as Bruce in any circumstance. Here are my guidelines: I will refer to the name Bruce when I think it appropriate. Bruce existed for sixty-five years, and Caitlyn is just going on her second birthday. That’s the reality.” The irony is that some of the same people publicly disparaging Tuvel for deadnaming Jenner, privately admitted that they’d never heard the word “deadnaming” before the Facebook frenzy. Call it a teachable moment...

Some suggest they don’t want to “dignify” the article with a response. They’d rather just express their outrage at its very existence. My point here isn’t to defend the arguments in Tuvel’s article, but rather to defend the possibility of an open dialogue and debate, and to try to diagnose the outraged response to that idea—the idea upon which the discipline of philosophy, and the academy more generally, if not also democracy itself, are based...

The feminist thought police are the flip side of the alternative facts machine. And both are threats to the open dialogue that is so vital for critical thought inside and outside the academy.

What I find most distressing about the hostile attacks against Tuvel, the article, and my defense of an open dialogue about it, is that there are people and institutions out there that are trying to deny rights to women, especially trans women and women of color. Dissent and debate allow feminism—and scholarship more generally—to flourish and advance, while insults and censorship are the tools of those who would shut us down. In this battle, feminists embracing inclusivity are not the enemy. Far from it. The real enemy is our culture of displaced outrage and its symptoms, namely the thought police and the alternative facts machine. Let’s have critical debate and philosophical arguments instead of cyber-shaming and personal insults"


Besides hypocrisy, another way to describe being supportive in private but critical in public is... virtue signalling.

Significantly, this happened in academic feminism, so the furore cannot so easily be dismissed as one wrought by "pseudo feminists", "tumblr feminists" or "internet feminists" who don't "understand" "feminism".


Comments:

"I liked your piece until I got here: " In this battle, feminists embracing inclusivity are not the enemy. Far from it."So you are saying that feminists who recognise that identity politics is deeply problematic are the enemy? The reality is that the culture of bullying has been part of academic and Internet discourse long before Trump ran for office and transwomen have benefited from this vitriol, often trashing women for having what is called "exclusionary" politics to some, but very much a feminist politics to most where males are not made the focus of political force. If anything, the institutions have been denying the rights of women to evoke their discontent with this mob culture which has taken them hostage, shunned their voices, for so long while making transgender as the fluffy white kitten in the room. What Tuvel's article shows is the incoherence of identity politics for she has merely applied the nonsensical discourse of transgender to race. And of course people are outrage by this use of gender theory--it shows up how incoherent feeling identity really is.

Until we can discuss openly the fact that identity politics is the problem to include this mystical thinking that somehow males can ever become women, such faux progressive discourses will continue to eat themselves. If anything, this debacle has shown up that indeed, not only does it not add up that feeling identity equates the reality of that alleged identity, but that reality still has a stake in the world."


""Gender" seeks to erase biological sex, which is the axis on which female people are oppressed and have been for thousands of years. It is deplorable. No other oppressed group (females) is ever asked to a) let their oppressor self-define his way into their class (outrage! a la Dolezal) or b) tell the oppressed group they aren't allowed to define what they even are. This is patriarchy and misogyny dressed up in progressive clothing. It's another strain of a Men's Rights Movement.

How convenient to make talking about the source of female oppression (being female -- our biological sex) an act of violence! and bigotry! The absurdity is beyond astounding, not to mention that it's no different than what men have done to women for forever when they try to discuss sexism."
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