Friday, May 8, 2009

Censorship and radical feminist transphobia, episode # 89176

One reason I don't "moderate" (censor) comments on my blog, is because I fear the inevitable slippery slope.

First, I'd be moderating for being offensive. Next, I'd be moderating for any disagreement at all. And finally I would be moderating/censoring just for thoughtcrime, i.e. "upsetting" my friends and readers.

Nope, not going there.

Thus, I don't understand the tendency of certain bloggers to zealously moderate/censor comments. I understand guarding against trolling and spam, particularly after witnessing the manner in which some radical bloggers (such as Renee) have been harassed to death by online viciousness. But for regular, relatively small-time bloggers such as your humble narrator? Censorship is primarily used to avoid ideological conflict; a way to stay safe and avoid being questioned about one's beliefs.

And some of us actually grow and learn through the working out and witnessing of such conflicts. For this reason, I love contentious, argumentative blogs, where all sides of questions are aired and examined.

Whenever I use the word CENSORSHIP, people get very exercised. It's like pushing a button, and the official Encyclopaedia Britannica definition of CENSORSHIP is duly spit out, on cue. (Honestly, why do people bother going to college, if it doesn't teach them to think for themselves?)

The teleprompter reads: It's not censorship since you can write it on your own blog! It's not censorship unless it's the government! It's not censorship since we have not prevented anyone from speaking! Blah blah blah. This is drivel; of course it is censorship. If I sent my kid to bed so she would not see SEX AND THE CITY, then I censored her television viewing, period. If I edited the scene out of the movie BIG, wherein Tom Hanks touches Elizabeth Perkins' boob in implied foreplay-mode--so my very-young child would not see it--but left the rest of the illegally-videotaped movie intact, this means I CENSORED about 30 seconds of the movie BIG. Yes, lil ole Daisy, unentangled by government, CENSORED something, all on her own! This is the proper usage of the word, people:

cen·sor·ship (sĕn'sər-shĭp')

1) The act, process, or practice of censoring.
If you do not want to be accused of censorship, then by all means, do not censor, which is defined as:
To examine and expurgate.
That's all. No mention of the government or "Get your own damn blog"--none of that. It simply means, TO JUDGE UNWORTHY FOR WHATEVER REASON--AND SUBSEQUENTLY DELETE. That is censorship.

When you protest that no, you do not engage in censorship, when you clearly DO, then you are a coward who does not have the courage of your convictions and who does not take responsibility for your own beliefs, whatever those beliefs are.

Thus, when you "moderate"--you censor. Do not argue otherwise, just because you want to come off as some big tolerant liberal. Please admit what you are doing. I just admitted I didn't want my young daughter to see likable Tom Hanks grab a boob, before she was old enough to understand everything about that scene. Now, you can do likewise and admit that you have occasionally done the same, it will not kill you.

If, however, you are one of those people who LIVES TO CENSOR, then I can see why you might want to avoid the label... obviously, alternate versions of truth--as perceived by others--are things you don't like to wrestle with very often. Much easier to squash these other voices, like dragonflies on a hot southern-summer windshield.


As you all must have guessed by now, I was just censored, again, and decided to address the subject. I was polite and succinct in my comment, so the only reason I was censored was for disagreeing with the majority.

And see? It would have been lots better if Valerie of Valerie Speaks, had just gone ahead and allowed my polite little dissenting comment... now it is going to be FAR MORE NEGATIVE and MUCH LONGER.

On a thread titled Radical Feminists and Trans Stuff (warning, offensive hate speech from Sam Berg and the usual we-hate-sluts contingent), Heart writes the following:
The conflict ideologically speaking between radical feminists and Queer/postmodern people is really located right here, in the disagreement about what gender is. All sorts of things happen to female persons because we are female: we have been denied the vote, denied citizenship, forced into marriage, forced into prostitution, endured the mutilation of our genitals and reproductive organs, had our feet bound, been raped and sexually enslaved, suffered honor killings, forced to cover ourselves in specific ways, forced to bear children, degraded and debased because we bleed or because we are pregnant, and so on. That’s *gender*. It happens to us because of our sex. This is core to radical feminism because the belief that gender is something mystical, something in the head, something someone is somehow “born with,” something someone just “knows” about herself or himself [1] obscures or erases the horrific realities I’ve described, what the process of gendering a human being does to her (or to him.) To gender a person is to force him or her to conform to a patriarchally designed and coerced stereotype. To gender is to coerce. If we abolish gender and all gender coercion, people grow up free to be whomever they want to be, to express themselves in any conceivable way, wear whatever, do whatever they want to themselves and not be told it is “unfeminine” or “unmasculine” or whatever, not be ostracized, marginalized and so on.
Italics mine, not Heart's.

And here is my censored comment:

Therefore, forcing someone to present as one or the other gender, simply because their genitalia is X or Y, is to continue the coercion.

Just to be clear, there is nothing remotely feminist about that position.
And you know, I can't understand how anyone could write that paragraph, and still be in favor of forcing gender on people: If you have X or Y genitalia, you are evilll and wrongggg for not identifying accordingly! (Isn't that the conclusion Heart and Co. have arrived at?)

If one agrees that gender is constricting and negative, why so judgmental and intolerant of the people who won't live according to their assigned birth gender? Doesn't the existence of such people PROVE that gender is fluid, multi-faceted and complex, rather than something very precise, prescribed and inborn (as the patriarchy has historically defined gender)?

Why are you preserving the gender-system right down to the necessity of panty-checks, if you claim you are against it?

And more to the point: your disapproval of trans people and your implication that trans persons are somehow invalid and trying to "deceive"[2]--is basically an unabashed celebration of inborn gender-roles and identity. (And this is in direct contradiction to your stated claims of abolishing gender.)

More from Heart:
No radical feminist I know and respect is personally concerned so far as what someone else might have done to their body or how they identify or, for that matter, what their beliefs about gender might be. All of us want justice for all people.
What are you talking about? Of course you are "personally concerned"--to the point that you believe such women should be refused entry at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (Michfest). You have written in favor of this position hundreds of times, on your own blog, the old Ms message board, countless other blogs, as well as the Michfest board. Hundreds of posts, thousands of words. You have proudly and zealously gone on record as approving of the active exclusion of trans women. How is that "unconcerned"? How is that "wanting justice for all people"?

The acrimony around transgender issues has to do, mostly, with the insistance that woman-only space and lesbian spaces, especially, be respected.
No, the acrimony is due to the fact that that you have decided certain women do not belong in that space, and you will not give equal time to any defense of said women's rights. They do not deserve inclusion, so OUT, OUT DAMNED SPOT. Ejection without trial! You show such proud disrespect, that you will not even listen to trans women or allow them to post on your blog... then you claim to be about "justice"...(!)

You first claim gender is oppressive, and then assert you want the right to continue to oppress people who do not fit into the proper gender categories. When this contradictory position brings about "acrimony"--you decide it isn't for the reasons feminists like me have enumerated, it is instead because you are too PURE AND GOOD for this world (there's that pesky Calvinism of yours creeping in again, Heart). You will not listen to what WE SAY is the problem and the cause of the acrimony, because of course, you know better than we do, right? We are not important enough for you to listen to. We don't count.

I think they call that predestination.

The experience of being subordinated because we are female from the time of our birth results in a lived reality that is not shared by those born male, even if they have transitioned.
No one has ever said the experiences were identical... but that these experiences do illustrate a different kind of oppression. As a cisgendered woman who has admirably fulfilled your gender-role, you have a privileged status. In fact, the way you are definitively proclaiming Who is What, regardless of their self-definition, is part and parcel of that status. You are giving an excellent demonstration of cis privilege: you know what transgendered people are, even BETTER than they know themselves. As men have always claimed to know women better than WE know ourselves. (Since you claim to be this right-on lesbian-feminist, doesn't imitating the worst habits of men bother you at all?)
As female persons subordinated on account of our sex by men and male-created institutions, we are entitled to gather as women for all the reasons all oppressed groups of persons gather. We are entitled to say that our spaces will not be shared by those born male.
As I said, cis privilege: you will decide who is "born male" and what that means, using the traditional patriarchal definitions. People's own perceptions of who they are, their own accounts and process, do not matter to you.

You are continuing to FORCE the definitions of gender; the very same gender that you criticize as oppressive. Suddenly, gender is your friend, when you need it to keep out the riff-raff.

Do you see the contradiction here?

Our gathering as women born female, who have lived as girls and women all of our lives, ought to be respected. A comparatively small number of vocal persons disagrees and has not only refused to respect women’s and lesbian space but has filed lawsuits against lesbian organizations, in some instances causing them to close, boycotted already marginalized lesbian and women performers and artists, launched no holds barred attacks on lesbian and radical feminist journalists, and so on. We are being told we are not entitled to determine how we will and will not strategize our own liberation. We are called “transphobes” and “bigots” in other words because we believe we are entitled to our own spaces, “our” meaning spaces for women born female, lived as girls and women all of our lives. There is a lot of understandable anger and resentment about this among lesbian/radical feminists. That anger isn’t about bigotry or transphobia, it is about justice for women as a people. Because, in fact, women are a people.

There are real transphobes everywhere, zillions of them in the mainstream, many of them, as you’ve noted, in alternative communities as well. Radical feminists are not, for the most part, transphobes and neither are lesbian feminists/lesbian separatists. Defense of our own spaces is not bigotry; it is insisting that we retain the right to strategize our own liberation.
Who is "our"? If you are going to continue to justify your exclusion of certain women, this is counterfeit liberation... it only refers to you and your friends. This is not all women. Certainly, it bears no relationship to radical feminism, but is instead a parody, a joke, by pseudo-feminists who were too busy during the birth of radical feminism to be involved... but like you, came on board much later, after reaping the considerable benefits of acceptable middle-class heterosexuality, as well as religious authority within Christianity.

Aren't you even a little embarrassed to be on the side of the censors, the segregationists, the haters, this time? Do you honestly believe there is nothing to the lawsuits, the boycotts, the challenges? They are just filled with the devil and are out to get you, is that it? These progressive feminist trans women who want to be included are simply trying to co-opt feminism, is that it? Why would they do that? What is the purpose? What's the frequency, Kenneth?

It seems to me, they want to be included, as disabled women once agitated to be included, as LESBIANS (whom you claim to be, something you mystically "just know" you are) have also agitated to be included. This is the same. But for some reason this time, you dig your heels in. THESE WOMEN you will not accept. They are too inferior; you simply will not associate with them.

And I think we can see, more boycotts, more lawsuits, more hell-raising, all are necessary.

Like the last segregationists, they will not give an inch unless they are forced. Bigots rarely learn a thing.


PS: Valerie, see how much LONGER this version is? Two lines would have caused much less fuss!


[1] How on earth could someone decide they are lesbian while still married to a man? Maybe lesbianism is "something someone just “knows” about herself or himself"?

[2] Heart has written that any trans person who does not disclose their trans-status to a prospective sexual partner, is guilty of rape. It is basically the feminist version of the "trans-panic" defense, used by trans-bashers throughout the land. Most recently, it was used as a legal defense of Allen Andrade, convicted murderer of trans woman Angie Zapata.