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November 14, 2003

du Toit, du
Posted by Teresa at 07:34 PM *

Kim du Toit’s website—note the absence of a link—features the slogan, “Turning America back into a nation of riflemen, one person at a time.” This is accompanied by a little icon of a Minuteman with a long gun barrel sticking up out of his crotch.

I regret to say that this is relevant information.

Of late, du Toit has been getting more attention than he ever has before, and likely ever will again, for his essay on “The Pussification Of The Western Male.” What makes this worth mentioning now is the amount of enthusiastic approval it’s gotten from the dittoi and freepi, which has left me feeling acutely embarrassed on their behalf.

The essay begins, “We have become a nation of women”: a demonstrable untruth. If it were that easy for men to turn into women, trannies would be a lot more convincing than they are.

Besides, if all those men really had turned into women, they would have known better than to applaud du Toit’s essay. Why? Because every woman in the world knows that any time a man talks about men in general losing their masculinity, or mothers damaging their sons’ masculinity, or women losing their femininity, what he’s actually saying is, I feel painfully insecure about my own masculinity. Men who feel secure about their own masculinity don’t do that. Once in a while they may observe that a specific man of their acquaintance is being kept on a short leash, but they don’t generalize from the observation.

This makes “men are being pussified” a riff a variant of the “Some People” ploy, as in “Some people might get upset if you do that” (= I don’t want you to do that); invoking miscellaneous third parties, as in “The neighbors have all been saying that’s just the kind of person you are” (= I don’t want you to do that); the polite indirection of the Northern Tier “a guy” formula, as in “A guy might want to get a second opinion before he okays that guy’s estimates”; and claiming that one’s position is supported by the Silent Majority or by the lurkers’ e-mail.

I heard this one a lot in my youth, and was tremendously confused by it. How was it that men were in danger of losing their masculinity, and/or women of losing their femininity? I could tell the arguments were interchangeable, one the reverse of the other. I was solemnly warned against engaging in activities that might cause me to lose my femininity—having a non-trivial non-menial job, or competing in debate tournaments long enough to get really good at it—but how that connected with biology was a mystery. In my experience, femininity was something you couldn’t get rid of if you tried. It took me far, far, far too long to realize that “losing your femininity” meant “making the men around you feel like they’re not automatically the Masters of the Universe.”

That left me with only one more piece of weird encoding to figure out: masculinity. To hear these guys talk, you’d think their dangly bits were imminently going to shrivel up and fall off. Never happens. That’s because what they really mean by “masculinity” is something more like I feel like I’m not getting enough automatic respect and deference from the world around me. As often as not, what they’re actually upset about is the way they’re getting treated by other men, but they know they’re not going to get very far complaining to them. Instead, they tell their womenfolk that it’s all their fault for not showing enough respect for their masculinity.

It’s all a shuck. Men still go on being men, and their dangly bits are no more nor less efficacious than they ever were, whether or not their womenfolk agree to go along with the gag. I mean, if the degree to which a man is treated respectfully had a direct influence on his masculinity, middle-aged white execs would be superstuds, and inner-city young black men would be so meek that they’d make Alan Alda look like Rambo.

for_du_twat.jpg Making Light salutes Kim du Toit.

What set du Toit off in the first place is a little harder to divine. He seems to be upset over people making fun of Bush playing dress-up in a flight suit on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. I think someone must have told him about Bush raiding the sock drawer.

Other casus belli:

—Ever since women were given the vote, they’ve been influencing public laws and policies in favor of things that are safe, sane, and practical.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is allowed on tv.

—Annika Sorenstam was allowed to play golf in a PGA tournament.

—The original purity of The Man Show has in subsequent seasons been subverted by girly-men.

===============================

From that, we went to this: the Cheerios TV ad.

Now, for those who haven’t seen this piece of shit, I’m going to go over it, from memory, because it epitomizes everything I hate about the campaign to pussify men. The scene opens at the morning breakfast table, where the two kids are sitting with Dad at the table, while Mom prepares stuff on the kitchen counter. The dialogue goes something like this:

Little girl (note, not little boy): Daddy, why do we eat Cheerios?
Dad: Because they contain fiber, and all sorts of stuff that’s good for the heart. I eat it now, because of that.
LG: Did you always eat stuff that was bad for your heart, Daddy?
Dad (humorously): I did, until I met your mother.
Mother (not humorously): Daddy did a lot of stupid things before he met your mother.

Now, every time I see that TV ad, I have to be restrained from shooting the TV with a .45 Colt. If you want a microcosm of how men have become less than men, this is the perfect example.

What Dad should have replied to Mommy’s little dig: Yes, Sally, that’s true: I did do a lot of stupid things before I met your mother. I even slept with your Aunt Ruth a few times, before I met your mother.

That’s what I would have said, anyway, if my wife had ever attempted to castrate me in front of the kids like that.

But that’s not what men do, of course. What this guy is going to do is smile ruefully, finish his cereal, and then go and fuck his secretary, who doesn’t try to cut his balls off on a daily basis. Then, when the affair is discovered, people are going to rally around the castrating bitch called his wife, and call him all sorts of names. He’ll lose custody of his kids, and they will be brought up by our ultimate modern-day figure of sympathy: The Single Mom.

You know what? Some women deserve to be single moms.

Men shouldn’t buy “self-help” books unless the subject matter is car maintenance, golf swing improvement or how to disassemble a fucking Browning BAR. We don’t improve ourselves, we improve our stuff.

a9 Copyright 2002-2003 - Kim du Toit. All rights reserved.

E-mails and comments become the property of Kim du Toit

Call this a government! why, just look at it and see what it’s like. There was a free nigger there, from Ohio, a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat. And there ain’t a man in that town that’s got as fine clothes as what he had. He had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane, the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a professor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the worst. They said he could vote when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote, myself, if I warn’t too drunk to get there. But when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin. Them’s the very words I said. They all heard me. And the country may rot for all me, I’ll never vote agin as long as I live.

Comments on du Toit, du:
#1 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 05:40 PM:

I'm inclined to find Mr. du Toit more amusing than enraging. How about a review of Iron John (Bly?) is that an acceptable treatment of the same issues?

As I argued elsewhere this is very much in line with writings of the last 2500 years ( and likely before lost in whatever created the first dark age in the Eastern Med)that today's youth are going to the dogs and particularly amusing when compared with Philip Wylie's assorted rants - Generation of Vipers - on Momism describing the great decline in social values represented by the television of Wylie's period - which is here seen as the golden age of macho (cf. William Bendix as Riley). Given Mr. du Toit's personal history I myself would tread very lightly in the comparison to Huck Finn's Pap on the race issue or credit Mr. du Toit on race if not gender. As one of Mr. Heinlein's characters (and in this case I suspect the sentiments are the author's given the story of the tramp and the high button shoe) says: No one slouches at a Birkenhead drill - and there are today, as there always have been and always will be those who would stand proud, those who would slouch and those who need NCO's to keep the line dressed. A lament that folks in peacetime are not eager for the opportunity is silly; in my youth I would have welcomed an opportunity to show off for the girls by throwing myself on a grenade - today I would figure the results rather defeat the idea but I'd still do it albeit with regrets. A certain wussification is a sign of maturity I suppose but there is something to be said for the other perspective; some people may not outgrow it but immaturity is hardly evil per se?

#2 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 05:43 PM:

Wow. Of all the things to lose sleep over, I can't imagine anything less worthy than the 'pussification of the western male."

Someone needs to tell him that literacy is for womenfolk and sissies and the more he types the smaller his testicles become.

#3 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 05:59 PM:

Just 'cause you won't link to du Toit doesn't mean I won't: take this!

#4 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 06:07 PM:

I'll try to hold myself to two comments (it's not easy!).

if it were that easy for men to turn into women, transies would be a lot more convincing than they are

I've never seen "transies." The terms I know are "trannies" and "transfolk" or "transpeople/transmen/transwomen." But I digress. My point was that the ones who are convincing are the ones you don't notice, and you might consider adding "some" to that sentence.

"Masculinity" didn92t mean 93masculinity," either, which was just as well.

It would be an act of shameless self-promotion to recommend my brand-new essay (with Richard Dutcher) in Laurie Toby Edison's new photography book, Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes which takes on this subject at significant length (no pun intended) and in significant depth.

So instead I will closely paraphrase the quote from writer and curator Jaime Cortez which is somewhere in that essay. "Masculinity is much more exquisite and fine than femininity. Women can count on the amazing flexibility they have built into femininity. Masculinity, in contrast, shatters at a touch, and leaves the fuck-up standing in the rubble, vulnerable as a pomegranate with its skin off, tender jewels exposed." (from "Sun to Sun" in Virgins, Guerrillas and Locas, book edited by and story written by Cortez).

In other words, it's ever so much easier to do all kinds of things without having your womanhood threatened than it is to do anything at all transgressive without having your manhood threatened. This is probably a consequence of the very real privileges of masculinity, but it still sucks.

#5 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 06:39 PM:
You know what? Some women deserve to be single moms.

Funny, my first read of that was du Twit (er, Toit) knocking himself. I would agree that any women guilty of such a lapse in judgment deserves to be quit of his company.

#6 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 06:44 PM:

I think 93transies94 might be the official nickname for Steven Den Beste92s favorite imaginary boogiemen, the transnational progressives.

#7 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 06:49 PM:

applause.

I've been seeing a lot of the Child as a lifelong punishment for female transgression thing this week on various blogs.

Presumably it's a family value.

#8 ::: Scifantasy ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 06:51 PM:

As a male, I find du Toit's ideas not laughable, but insulting. I do apologize for this long bout of preaching to the choir, but I really won't feel clean until I've said something.

I talk about guns, self-defense, politics, beautiful women, sports, warfare, hunting, and power tools -- all the things that being a man entails.

Tell me--when did you get the right to decide what being a man entails? Who appointed you arbiter of humanity? And where the hell did you come up with those criteria?

Admittedly, I do agree with a few of them.

I, too, never back down because the odds are overwhelming. If I did, I'd not bother to respond to a man with a neutronium skull, especially when he probably is incapable of hearing disagreement.

I open doors for women. Not because they can't, which is what you would have, but because it's my way of saying "Let me be nice." I open doors for everybody, in fact, and that's why.

I recognize evil when I see it, too. (You don't, incidentally; you decided that "evil" is another word for "different.") Though I don't decide that it's my God-given right to flatten that evil without care for the innocents in the way.

I think TV--the media in general--is a reliable barometer of our culture, too. But I don't read off of it and say "that's our culture," I read off of it and ask, "what does this indicate?" The 1950s, your ideal, were throwback eras. As a result of the horrors of World War II (just war, maybe; horrors were still inevitable), and the enroaching fear of Communism, America wanted a peaceful world, one where problems were all solved in half an hour and everybody ended up happy. That's not how the world was, and certainly not how it is.

And if you don't want to be a figure of fun and ridicule, here's a piece of advice: Get your head out of your ass. "We don't improve ourselves, we improve our stuff." At least I can't say you're lying; you're just plain moronic.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 07:52 PM:

Deb, I'll take the respelling. What is and isn't convincing is in the eye of the beholder, and the gender line is blurrier than is commonly recognized. Some-if-not-all people who naturally fall into blurry territory will tend to dress into one or the other gender. The class of people who naturally fall into blurrily gendered territory overlaps but is not wholly congruent with the class of people who are unshakably convinced that their proper gender is not the one a quick visual inspection would suggest.

And so forth and so on. Will you settle for "there'd be fewer unconvincing transsexuals"? But no -- that implies that they intend to be a convincing specimen of their semi-reassigned gender, and I know at least one (as do you) whose claimed gender is "obvious transsexual."

Really, what offended me was the assumption that anyone who's unsuccessful at being a man will automatically turn into a woman. It's what moved me to have Patrick snap that picture.

Familiar Men is a wonderful book -- I was just browsing it at WFC -- but I have to wonder about this conception of masculinity as this dreadfully fragile flower. Perhaps they feel like their masculinity is that fragile; but if everything goes wrong and they wind up standing there amidst the debris, what gender are they then?

I'm not unsympathetic, not in theory at any rate. Thing is, I grew up hearing about the fragile male ego. If you don't let the boys win at games, if you don't let the boys run things, if you don't pretend the boys are smarter than they are, their sense of their own masculinity will be damaged. If they take out their frustrations on their wives and children, you have to understand that it's very hard to be a man, and they're doing the best they can. Et cetera. I'm not talking theory. I'm talking about sentences that actually got said to me.

Life is hard and uncertain. The further down the social ladder, the more uncertain it is. If this brittle, frangible male identity is a social construct, it's one that's a lot more dangerous for some men than for others. If it's inevitable, something that's built into men, then we have to deal with it. But short of establishing that it's genuinely innate, I have to ask whether it's a good thing at all.

adamsj, you are a wicked fellow.

#10 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 08:31 PM:

The entire notion of masculine ego is bad insecurity management; not doing the work to look at whether or not you and your self image are congruent, so everyone else has to never even imply the question to avoid abuse.

Doesn't even benefit the men involved, which -- if it did -- would not excuse it.

#11 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 08:32 PM:

Oddly enough I didn't take the identification of an unsuccessful male with a woman at all seriously - taken literally that is indeed logically absurd and highly objectionable. Even in Utah failure at the Priesthood is not a qualification for the Relief Society - but of course it is quite easy there to be a second class male literally. I guess there have been hits on some sore spots I don't have. I still wonder what all the fuss is about if more people care to discuss beyond ad hominum.

#12 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 09:49 PM:

Spotting a trannie is like spotting a toupee. Some are more obvious than others, but with most there's an obvious self-delusion of "people are being too polite/embarrassed to say anything" being interpreted as "Nobody can tell!" Even the most convincing tend to raise the "What's up with her?" flags, usually by dressing in a kittenish outfit that even a midwestern cheerleader would find too girly. That and the fact that most women tend to accessorize to convey their own personality/interests, plus match the occasion, whereas trannies usually accessorize to convey a message of vanilla femininity decades out of style, and usually wear fashions at least two levels too fancy for wherever they are. I'm sorry, you do not wear an evening gown to the 7-11.

I can't speak for the generations before mine, but women of my age have the privilege of wearing whatever outfit they want and having it considered normal attire, and have had that option since kindergarten--which is not the male experience at the same age.

Things like the bitchy Cheerios commercial are a backlash against Father Knows Best era of cinema, where women were often silly and flighty (cf. Olive Oyl's "If I Were President," circa 1948), and I think it's fair to say that misandry is given a pass all too often in the modern era. I remember once, in a debate, having a woman try to play the "I feel you're just being a typical assertive male" card, which I pointed out was just the flipside of "You're just a girl, so you don't have anything important to say, so nyah!"

Fact is, there are some men who are doormatts, and some women who are the same, and they both need to grow a little backbone. But it is sexist to call doormatts pussies.

#13 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 09:53 PM:

scifantasy, I always open doors for people too, as well as saying excuse me and thank you in the subway.

If nothing else, it stuns people frozen until you can get by.

#14 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 09:53 PM:

Perhaps they feel like their masculinity is that fragile; but if everything goes wrong and they wind up standing there amidst the debris, what gender are they then?

Eunuch, I think; the gender of being male without masculinity. And therein lies the fear, for one does not automatically become a woman if one fails to be a man; one becomes an emasculated man.

One could carry that theorizing further: a male, on being emasculated, does not become woman, because he is not female, and thus does not have the powers that come with being female -- because, of course (and amongst other powers), all anyone female has to do to get what she wants is bat her eyelashes suggestively at the men in power, and they're immediately under her thumb, right?

This, then, explains why masculinity-obsessed men fear strong women: strong women reach for the powers of masculinity, while not giving up their femaleness. They control the horizontal and the vertical, and they cannot be stopped. And so they must be undermined; they must be declared neither female nor masculine.

Or, at least, I think that's a plausible description of the matter. I may, however, be completely off base instead.

#15 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 10:21 PM:

Teresa -- does that photo come under your rubric of "telling the truth for once"?

#16 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 11:28 PM:

Me again, yes, it's 11:30 on a Friday night. I have no life.

I was thinking about this guy's take on masculinity and what I found particularly offensive about his phrase "pussification" It's this: masculinity and femininity can be defined so many different ways that they are nearly meaningless terms. A man can be gentle and be very masculine, a woman can be strong and feminine, or the opposite can also be true. The range within genders is far more vast than between the genders.

That said, it's ridiculous to propose that one behavior is not masculine enough, or that men are being pussfied. Nobody could get away with a remark like "the Jewification of the Western man" or "the negrofication of the Western male" yet some bonehead can say "pussification" and some people will agree with what he's saying.

We've grown as a society enough to realize that there is no African or Caucasian way of behaving, and to even suggest such a thing is preposterous. I long for the day when similiar remarks based on gender are similiarly obsolete.

#17 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 11:32 PM:

Wow, so much to comment on here....

As someone who's in FAMILIAR MEN, I'm very proud to be part of that book. Some of the reactions I've heard from folks when I mention I'm in it are not particularly wonderful, but I'm still proud.

As someone who is, in TNH's telling phrase, "down on his luck" at the moment, I'm battling with the question of what's masculinity and what's humanity a lot more than I have before. Somehow, though, I don't characterize my problems as being about masculinity. Maybe it's the transgressive look of long hair and sideburns that Isaac Asimov stole from me in the Seventies, but I can't believe that who I am is really about my gender. Since masculinity is often connected with "doing well in the financial world" (remember Kissinger's comment on power being the ultimate aphrodisiac? Rich powerful guys can buy more sex than poor powerless guys, in various coins), I can definitely see, in myself, a disconnect from feeling that I'm worthy of having good sexual connections because I'm feeling powerless and unable to support myself [note -- that I'm feeling it does not mean it's true, it's just that I can see the disconnect].

Sex, gender, power. They influence each other, but they don't equal each other. And the influence is sometimes brutal, sometimes subtle. Correlation does not equal causality, which can be hard to remember when you're treading water in a septic tank (that there's shit, and that I'm here, doesn't mean I intended to end up here, just that what I did got me here and now I get to figure out how to change things). du Toit seems to believe that correlation and causality are intimately linked. And he's setting himself up for a big fall, IMO. But then, maybe all he wants is some attention, which this grandstanding is clearly getting him.

There's an addictive behavior here, says one who's intimately experiencing same. The attention is a rush, kinda like a drug or alcohol rush ("Yes, that's the feeling I was missing!"). In an ideal world, we'd ignore the petty dictators, the racists, the sexists, the folks-who-try-to-make-different-wrong; because we'd know that ignoring them was safe. But we don't have an ideal world; we need to say "This is wrong, and I won't stand for it" because too many people don't realize immediately how wrong it is. And fall for it, and blame folks outside themselves for the cesspool they're swimming in. It's easy to do -- not all the shit here is my own, and it's easier to look at what comes from others than what comes from myself. But nobody other than me can change the fact that I'm here and I'm swimming. Expecting someone to do so doesn't really work very well.

I've been lucky, and I've been unlucky. Lucky feels a lot better. I'm still trying to hold on to not blaming anyone else when I'm unlucky, since I'd rather not give someone else the credit for (all of) the lucky times.

Rambling, and not sure that I should post, but choosing to do so in part because I believe that personal ephemeral states of mind may help someone else....

Cheers,
Tom

#18 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 11:49 PM:

1) adamsj, thanks, i feel soiled now. But it was a great video.

2) I know one 'transie' that's really convincing, but he's not done yet (may never be, don't want to ask, been through the whole tamale with a close high school friend of Jim's who, BTW, is a LOT happier female). I HAVE seen him reallly fuck with a local sf familiar drunk out at our Renaissance festival (after the drunk made an ass out of himself trying to ask Andrea if s(h)e'd go back home with him and Andrea said no, about 15 minutes later the drunk came back and said, "Paula, was that a man or a woman I propositioned back there?" I just smiled kindly and said, "what do you think."

3) the DuToit was just the thing to raise my blood pressure first thing in the morning (when I read it). I think so little of Bush that I'd rather not say more, he's a pussy and does not deserve respect. But DuToit uses lots of fallacies to make their 'point', and just pissed me off. Like I need it right now, at the busiest time in my season. And it was my own sweetie who told me about it. Grr. (but then again, ... oh, no, I'm not going into that, it's too personal. Jim is a Good Guy. that's all I'm going to say. We've been married 25 years and he rolls with the transigences of life just fine. And deals with people very fairly. Which is what probably pissed him off about Du Toit too (Freudian slip, I just typed that Du Tit, but it could be Du Twat, too....)

enough, peace.

Paula

#19 ::: Yahmdallah ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:30 AM:

Well, it's official. The graphic "Making Light salutes Kim du Toit," after reading the post, caused me to guffaw a medium-sized Cheeto through my left nostril, proving it can be done in the proper circumstance. Dear Lord! And, Ouch!

#20 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:50 AM:

That said, it's ridiculous to propose that one behavior is not masculine enough, or that men are being pussfied. Nobody could get away with a remark like "the Jewification of the Western man" or "the negrofication of the Western male" yet some bonehead can say "pussification" and some people will agree with what he's saying.

We've grown as a society enough to realize that there is no African or Caucasian way of behaving, and to even suggest such a thing is preposterous. I long for the day when similiar remarks based on gender are similiarly obsolete.

Jewification/Negrofication/Pussification are all anti-P.C. phrases designed to incense and annoy, but dismissing them from the verbiage doesn't do away with the plain and often unpleasant fact that there are subcultures, and subcultures often clash.

This is the elephant in the corner you're not supposed to mention, like you're not supposed to mention that the unconvincing trannie not only hasn't convinced you but has gotten it painfully wrong, but cultures do have differences and sometimes do not make a good fit. It's like booking the Muslim fundamentalists in the same hotel with the national cheerleading competition.

#21 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:50 AM:

That said, it's ridiculous to propose that one behavior is not masculine enough, or that men are being pussfied. Nobody could get away with a remark like "the Jewification of the Western man" or "the negrofication of the Western male" yet some bonehead can say "pussification" and some people will agree with what he's saying.

We've grown as a society enough to realize that there is no African or Caucasian way of behaving, and to even suggest such a thing is preposterous. I long for the day when similiar remarks based on gender are similiarly obsolete.

Jewification/Negrofication/Pussification are all anti-P.C. phrases designed to incense and annoy, but dismissing them from the verbiage doesn't do away with the plain and often unpleasant fact that there are subcultures, and subcultures often clash.

This is the elephant in the corner you're not supposed to mention, like you're not supposed to mention that the unconvincing trannie not only hasn't convinced you but has gotten it painfully wrong, but cultures do have differences and sometimes do not make a good fit. It's like booking the Muslim fundamentalists in the same hotel with the national cheerleading competition.

#22 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 01:21 AM:

Making Light plus Cheetos equals... something I'm really hoping is a guy thing. ;)

#23 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 01:22 AM:

I still don't understand the outraged responses - don't understand why bright people if arguably idealogues like Eric S. Raymond are making so much of the essay despite an evident lack of the sort of outrage shown here.

Taken literally the essay is of course objectionable. I am no more inclined to take it literally than to fly into a rage because Mr. du Toit could be read as giving John Dean Cooper credit for the perhaps ancient Persian phrase [teach him] to ride shoot straight and speak the truth that Colonel Cooper is so fond of; Mr. du Toit can also be read as speaking of a phrase Colonel Cooper has taken and made his own if not originated.

The essay reads to me more like an attack on the sort of person discussed here exthread who seeks divorce from reality; that is who believes in the face of evidence to the contrary that meat comes prepackaged in plastic wrap and if not an actual synthetic is at most a product of the sort of semi-mechanical carniculture described in Pohl's The Space Merchants (is that really out of print these days?). Aside from a rant at the state of society what real damage seems likely to follow if half the world echoed the sentiments? Is it a call to discriminate? To strip women of the vote or otherwise to condemn women to a life of second class citizenship? If so I guess I just can't read english that well.

#24 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 01:27 AM:

I think it's fair to say that misandry is given a pass all too often in the modern era

I, on the other hand, think it fair to say that the level of misandry in modern society is several orders of magnitude lower than the level of misogyny, that misandry is roundly and viciously condemned at every turn whereas misogyny is not just given a pass but institutionalised, and that even were those two points not true misandry would still not be able to make a dent in the cosy armour of privilege in which men are swaddled from birth.

(Graydon: amen. Teresa: that picture is priceless.)

#25 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 01:31 AM:

clark, IIRC SPACE MERCHANTS is available through a POD printer and we have it at The Other Change of Hobbit. It's one of the Great SF Books of 1953 generally in print since that year (MORE THAN HUMAN, FARENHEIT 451 as the obvious others). As a product of 1953 myself, I am proud to be associated with them (hey, how many mainstream books from any given year are in print 50 years later?).

Cheers,
Tom Whitmore
proud to have been part of a science-fiction specialty store for more than half his life...

#26 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 02:19 AM:

Pussification Guy seems to think that there are no men left willing to fight and die for freedom. I guess the hundreds of thousands of men -- and women -- in Iraq recently are there on vacation.

He seems to think that George W. Bush is a model of a proper American male role model. I guess Pussification Guy thinks it's manly to duck out of a war when it's YOUR turn to fight, and then put on the uniform and strut around from a position of safety later.

He thinks that Al Gore is a pussy. When it was Al Gore's time to fight, Gore put on the uniform and put himself in danger. I'm not saying Gore was a mudfoot infantryman -- Gore was a journalist for "Stars and Stripes" -- but he certainly did more for his country during Vietnam than Bush did.

Like Pussification Guy, I was disturbed that Clinton did NOT fight in Vietnam, but at least Clinton stood up and made a public statement that he wasn't going to fight. He didn't hide in the Air National Guard.

The Pussification Guy's view that American men are being feminized is, of course, not unusual, it pervades the pop culture and stand-up comedy. I've never been able to figure it out before, but now I think I have, and I wonder why it ever puzzled me before.

Pussification Guy's definition of masculinity and pussification is obvious.

He writes: "I talk about guns, self-defense, politics, beautiful women, sports, warfare, hunting, and power tools -- all the things that being a man entails."

Keyword: "Things." Pussification Guy defines being a man as being defined by what you own and what you talk about and how you entertain yourself. Kevin Andrew Murphy talks about transvestites and transsexuals adopting exaggerated totems of femininity in order to make themselves into women; Pussification Guy thinks he can make himself into a real man by cussin' and spittin' and fartin' and huntin' and owning lots of guns. BIG guns.

I puzzled through these issues myself when I was in my 20s, and while I was doing so I was reading the early Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker and some of Elmore Leonard's earlier novels, and I came up with my own code of manhood in the process: a man fights for what he believes in, but is not the first to use violence. A man is kind to women and children, and treats them with respect. A man speaks politely. A man does what he says he will do. A man doesn't brag on himself, indeed, a man should have a self-deprecating sense of humor. A man his honorable.

Note that none of those things have anything to do with the way you dress (although politeness does require one wear certain clothing at certain times -- for instance, a man should wear a nice suit to a wedding or funeral to show respect for the guests of honor). None of this has anything to do with whether one likes guns, or hunting, or talking about beautiful women. (I like #3, not so fond of #1 or #2, although I have no moral aversion to either of those two activities -- if you like 'em, knock yourself out) (Another, less important element of my personal code: when talking TO a beautiful woman, one should mostly look at her face. Just a random thought here.)

Note also that pretty much all of my code of manhood is, in fact, a gender-free code of adulthood.

Other points: I agree with the Pussification Guy that the bumbling sitcom Dad is dumb. I don't find it particularly offensive -- but I do find it stupid and it's one of the reasons I don't watch many sitcoms anymore.

The one sitcom I *do* watch is "Will and Grace." I'm sure the Pussification Guy would see me as part of the problem.

Still, if you're looking for manly role models on TV, consider the men of "NYPD Blue," "ER," or, for that matter, Rube on "Dead Like Me." (Rube is, of course, dead. Or undead. Does that count? And speaking of undead male role models on TV: Spike.)

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is just plain funny. Or was. It's kind of a one-joke show, and it's lost its lustre a bit.

#27 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 02:26 AM:

Pussification Guy considers John Wayne a model of American manhood. JOhn Wayne: another guy who talked tough, but didn't fight in the war when it was his turn to fight.

But I don't mean to disrespect the Duke. I'm a fan of the Duke. "True Grit" is one of my favorite movies. Note, by the way, that in "True Grit," the Duke eventually comes to respect and love a 13-year-old girl.

Jimmy Stewart, on the other hand, served his country during wartime and then went on to play whatever roles he pleased. He didn't have anything to prove.

You can't tell how tough a guy is by how he acts when the pressure is OFF. The toughest guys I know are guys who, when the pressure is off, just act like regular guys.

#28 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 02:38 AM:

Like most rants of this sort, there are a lot of elements, a few sensible (e.g., protesting overuse of Ritalin on children), not all of which add up. but by my reading of the essay, it's not so much the change in women's status that has his knickers in a twist. His most shrill anger is reserved for "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"--that is, it's his view that other men, "girly-men," are taking over. And he doesn't know how to compete with them. Thus, by his own description, he's exactly the opposite of the sort of man he praises: He's a man who feels unable to compete with other, more powerful men. And he doesn't realize, apparently, that he's in this position. Despite his knee-jerk Clinton/Gore swipes/Bush ass-kissing, I feel some sympathy for the underlying sense of frustration he feels at having to compete with a brave new world, not of powerful women (I'm fine with that, for the most part), but of powerful metrosexual males who effortlessly understand the changing styles and mores of our time.
The guy is a dork. I doubt he will ever reach a level of self-understanding sufficient to really articulate what frightens hm so.

#29 ::: catie murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 02:45 AM:

Teresa, you are the wind beneath my wings. :)

#30 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 03:23 AM:

I think it's fair to say that misandry is given a pass all too often in the modern era

I, on the other hand, think it fair to say that the level of misandry in modern society is several orders of magnitude lower than the level of misogyny, that misandry is roundly and viciously condemned at every turn whereas misogyny is not just given a pass but institutionalised, and that even were those two points not true misandry would still not be able to make a dent in the cosy armour of privilege in which men are swaddled from birth.

On point 1, are you taking the world as a whole, American society, or your local neck of the woods? In my local neck of the woods, the SF Bay area, misogyny is generally called when it's seen. Occasionally when it's imagined.

On point 2, I've rarely seen misandry being roundly and viciously condemned, unless I'm the one doing the condemnation.

On point 3, could you possibly be more dismissive and condescending? Regardless, as for this "armor of privilege" we men get swaddled with from birth, as I understand it, privilege is the right to do things and get things. In the time and place where I was raised up, girls could wear pants in kindergarten, or dresses, their option, but boys could only wear pants. Likewise, girls were allowed to play with dolls or building blocks and toy trains, but boys couldn't play with dolls. Yes, yes, you'll dismiss these as frivolous objections, but I remember hearing the line about boys having all the privileges and it was definitely untrue when I heard it at age five in 1971. And while adult males may have had privileges, the right to be blown up in Vietnam like my uncle didn't seem like much to brag about. "Cosy armour"? Hardly.

#31 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 07:28 AM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy -

That was the old rules, you know -- you get all the power and you get all the responsibility, too. Which is where the going off to being blown up comes into it. (the use of the these rules to manipulate those as don't have any of the actual power is a noteable political element of the last sixty years or so.)

It's also where what's contemptible about Mr. Du Toit's view comes into it.

The Real Man Rules have always been Get The Job Done and Don't Brag. (Bragging is a tolerable adolescent failing but unacceptable in an adult. Bragging is required by marketing, things wrong with corporate culture number LXIV.)

The changes of the 20th century to those rules have been very small -- a recognition that the aberant insistence on ancestry as defining ability to Get the Job Done was just that, aberant and foolish, on the one hand, and that A Penis is Not a Qualification, on the other.

Both recognitions that the thing which matters is the Job Done and Well Done, not how surprised anybody is by who did it, or how they managed.

Mr. Du Toit wants his penis to be a qualification; wants to live in a world where it's of course assumed that he would get the job done, if he ever had to do it.

Which is nonsense, because he's not acting like it; he's acting like he's angry that these assumptions are not being made. If he could do the job, he wouldn't be angry; he'd be certain that the people making the assumptions were wrong, and indifferent or dismissive of them.

And sure, sometimes, the job is too big, and it does you in to try.

Sometimes you have to try anyway, and you make the job a little smaller and a little easier for the next person who has to try.

If you do it wearing a skirt, no one of consequence is going to care.

#32 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 07:30 AM:

Perhaps the Y chromosome shatters easily.

Seriously though, his arguments seem to be the flip side of the argument that gender is socially determined: If gender identity just a matter of who gets to play with what toys and who gets to wear skirts or pants, seen from an insanely rightwing POV, "pussification" lurks at every turn.

Of course, human biology doesn't work that way. Boys will be boys pretty much no matter what you do, and girls will be girls.

(If Kim du Toit is made so nervous about all this, I'm surprised he hasn't changed his gender-ambigous first name.)

This is not to say that there aren't issues to discuss about how our society treats boys. But -- to state the obvious --du Toit is a nut.

#33 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 08:40 AM:

Debate club? I know this is not at all the main point, but I just can't get unstuck from it: debate club was supposed to be for boys? My debate coach was so thrilled when he could get any boys at all to participate. I had no idea it was ever supposed to be "a boy thing."

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 09:12 AM:

Wow, I don't even know where to begin.

julia, I also find that courtesy amazes people. Especially people who are abused all day long. I used to play a game where I'd try to get subway token clerks to smile; in some cases even eye contact was an accomplishment. I ALWAYS said please and thank you to them; I flatter myself that most of them noticed.

Brooks Moses, I appreciate that you're using a metaphor, but of course adult males do not become eunuchs, as such, when they lose their testes. They become sterile, of course, and need hormone replacement therapy (now deliverable transdermally) to maintain muscle mass etc, but eunuchs have never had masculinizing hormones.

I heard a recording of a castrato singer once; it was impossible to mistake for a woman's voice, or a boy's, or certainly an undamaged man's. It was astonishingly beautiful; it made me understand the motive for that terrible crime.

It is my understanding that eunuchs can enjoy sex, but don't have the driving need for it that unharmed men have. Farinelli, a great castrato opera singer, was much sought after by women. Gee, a handsome man who never needs to shave and can't get you pregnant...I can see how that might appeal, back before birth control. I'm certain he wouldn't smell right to me, as women don't (I mean to turn me on sexually).

Yahmdalla, that's horrible (and, sorry, really funny). And yep, that'd be a guy thing. I remember many years ago a friend instructing the food-run guy (late night D&D session, yea, many years ago) to get "the kind of Cheetos that are round and tubular, not the ones that are spherical and come in a can, or the ones that are sort of skinny..." he couldn't make the poor guy, no connoisseur of Cheetos (?!), understand. I said "he wants the puffy-wuffys, not the bally-wallys or the wormy-squirmys." Cheeto-guy: "No bally-wallys, no wormy-squirmys." Food-run guy got it.

Concise, effective, not at all butch.

All hearken to sennoma, who speaketh the Truth. Right on^3!

Kathryn Cramer, Kim du Toit is like a Y chromosome, which is tiny and almost inconsequential. I'm led to understand that most of the effects of the Y come from its NOT balancing genes on the X, thus making genes that appear on the X more powerful (male pattern baldness is but one example).

The Y does have some important genes; a person with one X unpaired will be female, and seriously disabled. But a person with one Y unpaired will not be male so much as dead (it's a lethal abnormality).

One other thing: Kimboy talks about 'pussification'; I want to defend a related term. One can be a "pussyboy" without being effeminate. And 'pussyboy' is not necessarily a derogatory term (in fact it most often appears as a self-description), nor is it intended to insult women. I'll just leave it at that.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 09:14 AM:

Dammit, I previewed and edited, and still left a mistake in! My last paragraph: the word 'pussification' should be in double quotes. Kimboy was speaking de re, not de dicto.

I try to be so careful. [kicks self]

#36 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 10:05 AM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote: Spotting a trannie is like spotting a toupee. Some are more obvious than others, but with most there's an obvious self-delusion of "people are being too polite/embarrassed to say anything" being interpreted as "Nobody can tell!"

Kevin, I sat and boggled at this for a while, wondering whether I should bother or not, but have finally decided to point out the obvious -

You have no idea how many transsexuals you have met in your life who were not only "not obvious" but whom it would never occur to you to identify them as other than their claimed gender. I have met several guys whom I was later considerably startled to discover started out life as girls: I have met rather more women who I discovered with almost equal surprise (go figure: somehow it wasn't the shock it was with the f-to-m trannies) were born boys.

Sure, Kevin. Sometimes you can tell. Claiming you can always tell just makes you look, well, either ignorant or bigoted. Possibly both.

n point 2, I've rarely seen misandry being roundly and viciously condemned, unless I'm the one doing the condemnation.

Then you don't get out much. ;-) Seriously, I can think of no other explanation.

#37 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:39 PM:

Judging from the photo Teresa included, methinks she finds this guy just a bit annoying. (Why, that's barely a third of a schuyler!)

Teresa, I don't think I ever knew before that you were on a debate team. So, umm, you and Karl Rove have something in common, then?

#38 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:47 PM:

Teresa wrote: "Thing is, I grew up hearing about the fragile male ego. If you don't let the boys win at games, if you don't let the boys run things, if you don't pretend the boys are smarter than they are, their sense of their own masculinity will be damaged. If they take out their frustrations on their wives and children, you have to understand that it's very hard to be a man, and they're doing the best they can. Et cetera. I'm not talking theory. I'm talking about sentences that actually got said to me."

It's funny, I grew up with that same theory floating in the background, and with a famously agressively strong willed Matriarch-Grandma and a sweet sensitive easy-to-tears Grandpa. All the uncles were drunken dysfunctional losers and my aunts (and mom) were smart, strong willed, educated and had great jobs. I always thought that men had all of this power and privledge in the world because women felt sorry for their fragility, a sort of noblese oblige (sp?) of genders.

I did think growing up that I had it easier than my brother. I could be a strong aggressive outspoken girl and wear whatever I wanted, but my brother was endlessly teased for being a sweet, sensitive, pacifist boy. And because he was also very tall and big he was a favorite target of bullies with something to prove who knew my brother wouldn't fight back. But it's not that easy is it? Gender roles are more fluid since the 70s but my career, a traditionaly female career, still earns considerably less than jobs which were traditionally male. And I did grow up strong and outspoken, but I have struggled all of my life with the results of that, from bosses who found my outspoken nature threatening and limited my advances because of it, to the co-worker who told me just last week that my "feminine psyche was squashed." Media may be having fun with different views of gender, but that doesn't mean we're going to be electing a woman president any time soon. Ultimately I would like to see all people valued for their unique personality regardless of their gender, but to say that men do not still hold the upper hand in power, pay, and privledge strikes me as hopelessly naive. It's great I can wear trousers but, really, I would rather have equal pay, equity in health research, equality in professional sports, etc.

In regard to "trannies," I would say that there are two seperate issues being discussed. There are individuals who genuinely feel that they are physically a different gender who in my experience, if lucky, make themselves as close to the gender they feel they are and do their best to fit in. I suspect we all encounter such individuals and have no idea that they are not the gender they purport to be. But there are also drag kings and queens who are, I think, drawn to an exagerated form of gender identity that really dosen't resemble any kind of genuine man-ness or woman-ness that I can identify with. I think that has more to do with power and flamboyance? Frankly I don't feel comfortable with the exagerated notions of gender represented by the drag scene, but how can you be anything other than deeply sympathetic to someone who's outsides don't match their insides?

#39 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:55 PM:

Has anyone else ever noticed that when you notice, or need a word it suddenly appears everywhere in your life? I was trying to remember "misandry" just the other day and since then I have seen it written in five or six places.

#40 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:58 PM:

On the topic of gender-related commercials: I don't know if any of you have been suffering the head-pounding experience of constantly repeated Mercedes Benz ads, but we disempowered tennis fans watching the ATP Masters tournament on the accursed ESPN networks (superb matches screened near midnight AZ time, post-midnight East Coast)can't avoid it. It goes like this: Woman at home minding her own business is interrupted by roaring monster which tears apart bits of her house but ultimately yields to her (waving a poker at it), beaten back into the garage and under the hood of a Benz; husband busy shaving doesn't hear her cry out to him, and jauntily walks into garage just as she's got the monster(symbol of outrageous engine power) back in place, saying to her, "Oh, there you are"; she tells him he "forgot to lock the car again"; he blithely says "Sorry", hops in the vehicle, and roar/screeches away from their vast home. After seeing this between 50 and 70 times, I started thinking of alternate endings -- wife stuffs husband under hood and walks off with monster; wife crams both of them under the hood and smiles, "Dinner is served." Wife plans to blow up garage next time. The ad may be intended to show "female empowerment," but the husband is such a smug jerk, all I can think is "Macho Asshole Luxury Car, slide off the nearest cliff!"

Am I alone in these fantasies?

#41 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 01:14 PM:

"They all had tough names except Ceran. Manbreaker Crag, Heave Huckle, Blast Berg, George Blood, Move Manion (when Move says "Move," you move), Trouble Trent. They were supposed to be tough, and they had taken tough names at the naming. Only Ceran kept his own97to the disgust of his commander, Manbreaker.

"Nobody can be a hero with a name like Ceran Swicegood!" Manbreaker would thunder. "Why don't you take Storm Shannon? That's good. Or Gutboy Barrelhouse or Slash Slagle or Nevel Knife? You barely glanced at the suggested list."

"I'll keep my own," Ceran always said, and this is where he made his mistake. A new name will sometimes bring out a new personality. It had done so for George Blood. Though the hair on George's chest was a graft job, yet that and his new name had turned him from a boy into a man. Had Ceran assumed the heroic name of Gutboy Barrelhouse he might have been capable of rousing endeavors and man-sized angers rather than his tittering indecisions and flouncy furies. "

- R.A. Lafferty, "Nine Hundred Grandmothers"

#42 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 02:39 PM:

Yonmei,

Was Henry Higgins ignorant or bigotted for pegging people's accents, even ones they tried to change or cover up?

Some people are more perceptive than others. I've many times been in a social grouping where someone has revealed they used to be the other gender, but my reaction has never been shock or surprise. It might be at some time in the future, but it hasn't happened yet.

The difference is, this is another elephant in the corner. Few these days care much if you peg their accent, and if you do, will often ask you for pointers as to what tipped you off. It becomes an interesting topic of conversation. Transexuals, however, have an emotional investment in "passing" (in quotes here for clarity, not disparagement [he mentioned in passing]) and tend to get upset if anyone mentions that they're not.

#43 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 04:58 PM:

Some people are more perceptive than others.

And some people are more arrogant than others. The two groups do not necessarily overlap.

I've many times been in a social grouping where someone has revealed they used to be the other gender, but my reaction has never been shock or surprise. It might be at some time in the future, but it hasn't happened yet.

And are you seriously advocating that this must mean you can spot all transsexuals?

#44 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 05:38 PM:

Oh, so, so many.

Teresa: I have to wonder about this conception of masculinity as this dreadfully fragile flower. Perhaps they feel like their masculinity is that fragile; but if everything goes wrong and they wind up standing there amidst the debris, what gender are they then?

I'm not unsympathetic, not in theory at any rate. Thing is, I grew up hearing about the fragile male ego.

Ah, but I wasn't talking about the fragile male ego; I think you know how much patience I have with that. I'm talking about how difficult it is for men not to transgress the rules of masculinity. As Brooks Moses so clearly points out, not being a satisfactory male doesn't make you female, it just makes you emasculated, which is (a) worse; and (b) what is informing du Toit's panic.

What one is when one finds oneself in the debris is confused and frightened. Now that might in fact be a gender, but it's not normally constructed as one.

(Thanks for the compliment on the book!)

Kevin Murphy: What Yonmei Said. Word of warning: I know from my own experience that when I overrate my powers of observation about anything, it comes back to bite me. Too many men have wound up in bed with hookers and been astonished to find penises for me to believe that there aren't really successful passing MTF transsexuals out there. I just know that I don't know them when I see them.

Tom: I think it's both deeply painful and extremely informative that your current troubles are mixed up in your head with masculinity. Good luck in the struggles.

#45 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 06:28 PM:

are you taking the world as a whole, American society, or your local neck of the woods?

I think my comments apply to the world as a whole, but I was really talking about the modern Western society against which Kim du Toit rails.

could you possibly be more dismissive and condescending?

I could, very easily, but then Teresa would disemvowel me. Are you assuming that I'm female? The nick is ambiguous, and I thought it would be interesting to leave it that way for a while in this thread. If I'm a man, is my comment still "dismissive and condescending"?

#46 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 06:48 PM:

One of the first things you learn when you read Shaw is that Henry Higgins was, indeed, an asshole.

#47 ::: Rgng Dv ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 06:54 PM:

Y fckng lbrls r ll th sm. lws blmng mrc fr th wrld's prblms. Yr slf lthng dsgsts m. Wh dn't y mv t Cnd y fckng pcfst.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 07:21 PM:

Raging Dave, you are a very silly person. Small children point at you and laugh; we adults, more polite, attempt to control ourselves, or titter behind our hands.

Titter, titter.

#50 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 07:39 PM:

My mom still mentions how bemused she was that when I saw "My Fair Lady" at about age 11 for the first time, I was hopping mad at the end that Eliza had chosen to stay with that wretched ass, Henry Higgins...

I haven't bothered to read du Toit's thing; I've seen enough blind smirking bullshit in my time. But it sounds like his trouble is that his self-worth is based on what other people think of him, how they interact with him. Sounds like his problem is not that he has no masculinity, but that he has no honor.

As for the whole "men and women have separate backgrounds/are separate groups" thing, I say bullshit; that's as artificial a separation of humanity as any other you care to name. Every trait in humanity can be found in both males and females. The percentages differ, but that's no reason to assume any specific female (or male) has to cluster with the main bump on the graph for their gender and that trait. "Oh, Madeline, you're a woman, and a Pisces, too! Here, you calm down the tantrumming child!" No, I'd rather go sand the rust off my car, thank you very much.

#51 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 07:46 PM:

Madeline: Katha Pollitt's response to Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was "Nonsense. Men are from Illinois; women are from Indiana."

#52 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 09:30 PM:

Sennoma--

In answer to the last question: Yes. Condescension is condescension.

In answer to the first: No.

Yonmei--

Spotting all? It's hard to spot all of anything. But many and most will generally do for most purposes.

If I were claiming that I can identify the ingredients in a spice blend by taste, people would hardly be so upset. Of course with identifying flavors, I have occasionally been wrong, at least to the source, if not the individual flavor.

Deb--

A fair warning. If you get cocksure, you tend to make mistakes.

Adam--

Granted, Henry Higgins was an asshole. It didn't mean he was wrong in his particular expertise.

Generally people who are arrogant have something to be arrogant about. It may not be as good as they think it is, but it's usually better than average.

#53 ::: Invisible Adjunct ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 10:32 PM:

Mrs du Toit also has a blog. She has some, er, interesting thoughts on "Suffrage and Suffering."

#54 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 11:06 PM:

Kevin, you have had some very interesting points to make, but "Generally people who are arrogant have something to be arrogant about. It may not be as good as they think it is, but it's usually better than average" ... Actually, behavioral research has shown that there is no correlation between arrogance and competence. In fact, there is more of an inverse correlation, statistically.


-l.

#55 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 11:09 PM:

Kevin:

Cocksure? Well, onward anyway.

That Higgins was skilled at what he did didn't mean that he wasn't also a bigot.

Ignorant, no, he wasn't that, not exactly, but not exactly in touch with the world, either. Higgins' expertise was the very thing which kept him--or allowed him to keep--out of touch with the world.

He could accurately and precisely classify a person into a specimen, much like the BOFH who lives in a world of lusers--hilarious to read about, miserable to work or live around.

Too often the skills about which a person may be rightfully proud are the skills which, leavened with arrogance, cause others to look at that person and say, "Poor bastard," or "Get a life."

I agree that arrogant people are often above average at what they are arrogant about. One thing about above average, though--it's generally another way of saying second-rate.

#56 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 12:06 AM:

Kevin, I don't wish to pick on you, but your example of Henry Higgins struck a nerve.

I have had to deal with people, mostly at parties and other chance-met occasions, questioning my accent and wanting to know, to the exclusion of any other conversation, where I am from, and being unwilling to accept a surface answer. Where I am from, for the most part, is Texas, but that's rarely enough to satisfy.

As a child I had a noticable lisp, and throughout my elementary school days I attended, every day, for an hour, speech class. I learned how to speak from the ground up, from where sound originates, what exactly I should be doing with my tongue, and I do mean exactly. Likely a single term would have sufficed to correct my problem, but once you were on the books (at least then) with a speech impediment, you were there for the duration, and so I had speech class for six years.

So, not to put to fine a point on it, I talk funny. And it's not something I really enjoy getting into when I meet people, especially in groups. "That's an odd accent, where are you from?" "I'm from Texas." "You don't sound like you're from Texas." "Well, I'm very sorry about that, but getting back to--" "No, really, where'd you pick that up?" You can see where it would get old.

Was Henry Higgins ignorant or bigotted for pegging people's accents, even ones they tried to change or cover up?

I don't know that I'd call him bigoted, but I'd certainly find him uncomfortable to be around. My point in relating this is that the range of differences which it might be all right to notice (that is, without distressing the other person) is more narrow than one might think, and transsexuals are not the only ones who might prefer their differences pass unremarked, nor is there anything exceptional in that.

#57 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 12:38 AM:

FYI: Raging Dave posted the exact same comment to at least one of Ampersand's threads.

I am bemused by the whole Cheerios commercial rant. I mean, it's generally a given that commercials for food like cereal (as opposed to beer or Doritos) are targeted toward women, women being the ones who supposedly do the shopping for the household.

So what kind of tone and scenario have folx on Madison Avenue decided (and/or found) to be appealing to the kind of woman who does the grocery shopping? How about, 'You know that the health of your family is in your hands, and between us girls, it's just as well, because he lived like a lout before he met you.' That is, play up the consumer's power in/over her household, so that the consumer will feel good about her role and connect it to you. And if there's any latent resentment about the fact that she *always* has to do the shopping, or the cleaning, or whatever, well, then this commercial plays up to that too. But at no point does du Toit (or probably many men at all) directly enter into that conversation between marketer and target market.

When du Toit starts complaining about the fact that practically every bloody laundry soap commercial and floor cleaning commercial and window washing commercial etc. are targeted toward women I'll have more sympathy with his discovery that cereal is too. If anything, one could argue that the cereal commercial reinforces the man's traditional role as patriarch who doesn't need to concern himself with how or what he eats because the woman will deal with all of that.

On another note, Dagwood was portrayed as a bumbling slacker through the whole series, from the movies to the cartoon. And "Hi and Lois" has the 'honey do' list that never gets done, and anyone who can't see that Helga wears the pants in the "Hagar the Horrible" family is just flat blind. And all of these (to pull just a couple of pop references off the top of my head) were buffooning men way before the current 'declension.'

#58 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 01:00 AM:

Re self-assessment of capability vs actual, I believe I probably overstated my case a bit. While there is research indicating that many people believe in their capabilities without a good reason to --

-- and while I remember reading earlier research that showed that people who doubt their abilities are no less (and often more) competent at certain tasks than their more arrogant fellows --

-- there's also research that shows that, at least in the realm of academics, people who have a high opinion of their abilities create a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy for themselves by sticking with problems longer and not giving up (I found a couple of essays that discuss this phenom, but they were either PDF or Word docs, so no links...).

Anyway, just a little info to clarify.

This is a subject I am interested in, because I have a real Jekyll and Hyde aspect, in this regard. Half the time I'm convinced I'm quite remarkable, and the other half the time I'm convinced I'm so banal and ordinary, I wonder what I really have to offer humanity.

Eventually I decide, probably about as much as most, in the grander scheme of things, and leave it at that... :)


-l.

#59 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 01:01 AM:

half-off thread: Madeline, did you ever look up the source of My Fair Lady? Shaw's postscript to Pygmalion says that not only did Eliza marry Freddy but grew in determination to the point where she would get the better of Henry. Shaw had a great deal of respect for competence when it came without arrogance -- an ideal several commenters have noted here. (And he didn't care a rap for what audiences expected, where later producers did; cf Misalliance(?), in which the woman who lands in the middle of a house party publicly dissects the separate ways each of the men tried to diminish her (except for the one star-struck kid who wanted to worship her -- she wasn't interested in looking up or down at a companion. Is Du Toit's problem that he can't survive without someone to look down on?))

#60 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 01:03 AM:

This is very close to irrelevant; but I just got the Looney Tunes DVD box set, and watching those 50-year-old cartoons as a 21st-century adult, the one thing I have to say is, Bugs Bunny is totally secure in his masculinity.

DuToit could learn a thing or two from Bugs Bunny.

#61 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 01:09 AM:

The fetishization of George Bush's physical appearance by the "men's men" of NRO and their facehugger offspring is just creepy. Read the Corner across any given week and I'll bet you'll notice this phenomenon a good half-dozen times, at least: "Did anyone catch the president's speech last night? Didn't he look good? Doesn't it just warm your heart to have such a presidential-lookin' guy for a president? Doesn't he look like he was just poured into that suit? Growl, growl, pant, lick."

Creep-tastic.

#62 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 01:11 AM:

Condescension is condescension.

But if I'm a man, my remarks apply equally to me; how can they then be condescending? It was that word which made me think you might be assuming me to be female. But perhaps that is pointless semantics, and I did not mean to be condescending or dismissive, just accurate.

And really, you have yet to make a substantive argument that men in our society (not five-year-olds in the 70s, or men serving thirty years ago in a military that in any case now allows women on the front lines) are not swaddled in privilege. Men earn more, both on average across jobs and for the same job in many cases (professional sports and acting, for example). Even when there are equal numbers of men and women in a profession, the illusion of equality disappears if you include authority in the analysis: the further up the food chain you go, the fewer women there are. Female POTUS, anyone? (Hillary in 2012: she'll get my vote, but she won't win. But I digress. Oh, and while I'm digressing, have you noticed that Dr. Rice is "Condi" to the media, whereas men get their surnames and usually their titles?) Sexual harrassment and sexual assault are overwhelmingly male aggressor/female victim. Except in known dangerous areas, few men think twice about walking anywhere at any time, but women have to think about the possibility of assault everywhere, all the time. Sexual targeting in advertising and entertainment puts females in a submissive role as toys or decorations or prizes to be won. The fashion/diet industry colludes actively in this, using sexualised images of girls and models with almost freakish physiques to degrade the self images of regular women so as to sell more crap.

That's just off the top of my head; and by comparision, I think "the cosy armour of privilege" is a relatively mild term for the advantage at which men find themselves in our society.

#63 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 02:17 AM:

Two comments:

Deb -- Since I can count on the fingers of one hand the moments when I've _actually been glad I'm male_ in full consciousness, any serious personal issue is going to relate to those few moments. This is not related to unconscious assumptions of male privilege. It's very personal. And I don't expect that others actually have had the same experience, but I wouldn't be very surprised to find that others did.

Sennoma -- I'm not interested in your gender. You get to play games with it to your content. The games I play are probably more obvious. I've made a lot of condescending remarks about groups I identify with. It's easy for me to think that some of your remarks are condescending about a gender you may or may not identify with. I agree that the class of men have a huge amount of privilege. I don't think that that means any individual man has privilege over an individual woman _in all cases_. And talking in absolutes is something I find divisive.

Speak for yourself. Don't try to make it universal. In the long run, I believe that's a lot more effective.

And if it isn't, at least you know you're lying (by omission) a little bit less.

Very sincerely,
Tom

#64 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 03:32 AM:

I'm a bit croggled at the comments by some of the women on this thread that they could wear pants to school. This was not true when I was in elementary school or even high school. When I was in school -- 1956-1968 -- girls definitely had to wear skirts or dresses (knee-length or slightly below). Guys couldn't wear jeans either.

As a result, I never did learn how to slide into a base, most of my ballplaying being done at recess.

This was why, when I was in fifth grade, I announced to my mom that I wanted to be a boy. She talked me out of it somewhat by reminding me that girls' clothes came in pretty colors and fabrics, using as an example the turquoise dress I'd recently been given, while boys' clothes were more plain. It didn't help my baseball skills though, or keep people from asking, when informed I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, "Don't you mean a nurse?" (No. My sister wanted to be a nurse.)

#65 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 03:58 AM:

When I was in junior high school I observed that the guys who were admired for their athletic prowess were really not that much better, and frequently worse, than some of us who were considered wimps. George W. is an example of a guy who has climbed to the top of the heap despite the lack of any significant competence.

To borrow Cory Doctorow's term, the men with the most whuffie are admired and compensated far beyond any objective merit they may possess. This is a system that every male gets sucked into whether he agrees with it or not. Some of us cope by not giving much of a shit about our status in the system. Others, the Kim du Toit's of the world, fight like crazy to maintain the status quo precisely because they are not at the top of the heap but by keeping things as they are they will not fall any lower. Their cold comfort is in the fact that there are more people below them than above.

As an unemployed male ten years too young to retire I find damned little comfort in my privileged male status. The whole thing seems to me to be a ponzi scheme to keep us all in line. Du Toit doesn't seem to be bright enough to question the rules of the game and that is why he is so frantic to defend his position. I'd just as soon get off of the treadmill. I think George knows how precarious his position is too and this is why he works so hard to filter out any information that disagrees with his image of the world.

Raging Dave is also raging to defend his world view and doesn't understand that we don't need to rage to defend ours.

Laura,

You are correct that studies have shown that many people of marginal competence have an inflated sense of self worth. One of the most common mistakes is assuming that skill in one area translates into skill in another or that academic accomplishment translates into job skills. I spent the last 2 1/2 years at a well known American audio company that prides itself on its technology: "Better sound through research." They suffer from a corporate case of the delusion of competence since the majority of their products are no better than mediocre. It was amazing to find this myopic attitude deeply embedded in the culture of an entire organization.

#66 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 04:35 AM:

"Except in known dangerous areas, few men think twice about walking anywhere at any time, but women have to think about the possibility of assault everywhere, all the time."

I don't. I've lived in a small college town, and now I live in a safe neighborhood in a city. I'm out fairly late sometimes on a bike, and go through some poor, black neighborhoods. Back when there were projects between my home and the interesting part of town, I'd go through them in spite of having been warned not to.

I have a perhaps irrational attitude that I live here, and get to travel freely. The worst that's happened is one attempted mugging on a well-lit sidewalk of the major street in the area.

#67 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 04:38 AM:

Kevin, I am actually finding this strangely amusing. Your ability to identify "all" transsexuals means simply that you can identify some transsexuals. (Even Henry Higgins didn't claim that he could place everyone in the world: his focus was the English language and specifically London dialects.) Logic alone says that you can have no idea how often you have been in the company of a transsexual person without knowing it. ;-)

#68 ::: mim ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 08:58 AM:

A lot of this guy's Issues could be resolved if he just changed his name to Tim du Coq.

#69 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 09:05 AM:

Laura,

Right now, I'm working through a thin little book which is the basis for a two-semester course, the first semester of which I've passed and the second semester of which is the only major obstacle between me and my B.S. in math. (Let me mention in passing the great people in the math department at UA-Fayetteville for letting me finish this from Atlanta as a readings course.)

While my skills have gone downhill since I've gotten older, I just can't believe I'm incapable.

I think it's the latter which explains why my fourth try over the last few months at one fairly simple problem was finally successful--I just couldn't believe I really couldn't do it.

(That thin little book--two semesters, only eight of the eleven chapters. Damn--a masterpiece.)

#70 ::: Raging Dave ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 10:21 AM:

Pardon me, but I seem to have picked up a stalker, who's going around and posting crap under my name and info. I've already obtained the troll's IP from this website's owner, but I would appreciate it if you would let me know what other sites the troll hit. You can contact me at wraithwulf@yahoo.com. I'm compiling a list of IP's that the troll is using. Most of them seem to be coming from an AOL server.

Thanks once again.

#71 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 11:07 AM:

I would bet dollars to donuts that Kimmie DuToit considers cunnilingus to be unmanly.

#72 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 11:20 AM:

BSD:

What a grudge match: Kim Jong-Il vs. Kim Du-Toit!

#73 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 03:35 PM:

Just had some disconnect problem eat a post, so I'll be brief:

Sennoma--

What Tom said.

Yonmei--

Where, in anything I wrote, did I use the word "all"? Go back up topic. Reread my original post. You're either putting words in my mouth so you can make your point, or misremembering what I wrote and responding to your false memory.

Pericat--

Sympathy. I enunciate too much for a regular Californian, due to speech therapy, too many British children's books, and the fact that my mom's German and learned British English first. However, authors, actors, anthropologists and many others find speech fascinating and crucial to know, so these questions arise.

#74 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 03:43 PM:

Men, women, and Cheerios? Oddly enough, while I was watching the Nova miniseries on String Theory, I got an email from my brother in Philadelphia about an interview in Modern Maturity with Art Garfunkel that mentioned the same trimverate. This poem emerged:


BLACK HOLE BIRTHDAY
-------------------
by
Jonathan Vos Post
copyright (c) 2003 by Emerald City Publishing
-------------------

At midnight, you turned 50,
alone, in your underwear,
eating a bowl of Cheerios
and wondering -- where did all your friends go?

What happened to that commune
with the famous scientists
who liked to keep you around
to remind themselves how smart they all were?

What if you had taken her up,
that reactor engineer
from the 747
who propositioned you, mid-funeral?

The years blurred past you, passing
like the billboards high above
Koreatown -- ideograms
you can't understand, don't remember.

Palm trees blaze, torches roaring,
dropping Kentucky Fried rats
into the scummy hot tub,
where you once played underwater Scrabble.

All your extra dimensions
are compactified, rolled up
too tight to be detected.
In String Theory, your strings are out of tune.

They all ran away from you,
galaxies of hangers-on,
accretion disks of neighbors.
What remained imploded to a black hole.

The light of your former world
drools down the gravity well
and, even if you got it,
you can't escape the event horizon.

1200-1230
7 Nov 2003

----------------------------------------

#75 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 05:34 PM:

Kevin A.M.: Your initial comment was: Spotting a trannie is like spotting a toupee. Some are more obvious than others, but with most there's an obvious self-delusion of "people are being too polite/embarrassed to say anything" being interpreted as "Nobody can tell!" (followed by analysis that made it clear it had never occurred to you that there are f-to-m transsexuals, too)

You're right, you didn't say you could spot all transsexuals (though the "evidence" you adduced clearly applied only to m-to-f transsexuals, and only to those who had little practice in "dressing femme"): you merely, rudely, said that "most" were clearly "self-deluded". Which is absurd. You cannot possibly know that most transsexuals you have met are self-deluding themselves that they "pass": you are merely identifying that all the transsexuals that you could identify as transsexuals were easily identifiable. Tautologous, yes?

Some people are more perceptive than others. I've many times been in a social grouping where someone has revealed they used to be the other gender, but my reaction has never been shock or surprise. It might be at some time in the future, but it hasn't happened yet.

If this isn't a claim that you can always identify transsexuals, what is it?

#76 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 06:26 PM:

Yonmei,

Actually, no. I do know there are F-M transexuals. I've met some. About the only time I've been surprised on that end was when someone next to me on a panel announced they were a f-m TG, when given the feminine features, smooth skin, large breasts, plaid shirt and denim overalls, I'd taken them for a young lesbian. Given that just about every man's outfit has now become appropriate women's wear in some context, this makes the question of passing odd. If someone doesn't realize they're supposed to be seeing you as something other than your original gender, are you passing or even cross-dressing?

Regardless, "I have not yet been surprised" is not the same thing as "I will never be surprised."

For the record, I have been surprised by a toupee. I was eight, and I was shocked to see my uncle suddenly bald the day we went waterskiing.

To turn the original phrase around, "Spotting a toupee is like spotting a trannie."

Is it bigoted or ignorant to spot toupees?

#77 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 07:35 PM:

Actually, no. I do know there are F-M transexuals. I've met some.

Given that you wrote: Even the most convincing tend to raise the "What's up with her?" flags, usually by dressing in a kittenish outfit that even a midwestern cheerleader would find too girly. That and the fact that most women tend to accessorize to convey their own personality/interests, plus match the occasion, whereas trannies usually accessorize to convey a message of vanilla femininity decades out of style, and usually wear fashions at least two levels too fancy for wherever they are. I'm sorry, you do not wear an evening gown to the 7-11. you certainly tried to make it convincing that you were entirely ignorant of any other kind of transsexual but m-to-f.

Regardless, "I have not yet been surprised" is not the same thing as "I will never be surprised."

We've established that you can make the (tautologous) claim that when a transsexual is easily identifiable, you can easily identify her or him as a transsexual. You're not yet ready to admit that you have no real idea how many transsexuals you have met whom you could not and did not identify as such. ;-)

#78 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 08:36 PM:

I have no particular views about transsexuals and I'm bored with Kim du Whatsit, but I really liked these remarks upthread from Stuart:

To borrow Cory Doctorow's term, the men with the most whuffie are admired and compensated far beyond any objective merit they may possess. This is a system that every male gets sucked into whether he agrees with it or not. Some of us cope by not giving much of a shit about our status in the system. Others, the Kim du Toit's of the world, fight like crazy to maintain the status quo precisely because they are not at the top of the heap but by keeping things as they are they will not fall any lower. Their cold comfort is in the fact that there are more people below them than above.

As an unemployed male ten years too young to retire I find damned little comfort in my privileged male status. The whole thing seems to me to be a ponzi scheme to keep us all in line.

What he said. The football captains, the homecoming queens--most of them wind up as peons too. They get a few more transitory perks, but in the end 99% of them wind up as just more bricks in the jail.

#79 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 09:03 PM:

Bricks in the jail? Like in the Jonathan Lathem story? And as long as I'm asking questions, whuffie?

#80 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 09:10 PM:

Yonmei,

I didn't mention F-M because I was trying to make an example, picking up on Teresa's original comment about (M-F) trannies, and I wasn't planning to write an exhaustive compare/contrast essay on the subject.

As for the tautologous claims, there's a flaw in your logic in that you have a base assumption that "easily identifiable" is the same for everyone. I can easily identify a pinch of an herb in a soup base. Other people require whole stalks swimming in the bowl before they notice it. Is it an easily identified flavoring because I identified it easily? Or do I possibly have a sensitive and well trained palate and thus sense things that others, less sensitive and less trained, might miss?

The "transexuals everwhere" (and you'll never know!) argument seems suspiciously akin to the vampires and communists everywhere theories. The number of transexuals I've not spotted is obviously a number greater than 0 and less than everyone, but I'm fairly confident that it's more like "a few" as opposed to "busloads." But short of stripping everyone naked and checking their medical records, we're not going to find out.

You're not ready to admit that spotting a transexual is a task no different than spotting a toupee or identifying a secret ingredient, and individuals with more sensitivity and/or training are going to be able to suss out most.

#81 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 10:08 PM:

Faren Miller: No, you're not the only one. In my fantasy she smacks him over the head with the poker and shoves him in the engine compartment for the monster to eat. Then she sells the car and buys something *she* likes.

MKK

#82 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 11:01 PM:

Kevin --

You're still theorizing in advance of the data.

Unless you have a means of checking, you don't know, you're just certain.

Familiar at all with discussion of gaydar, and stories about how people have got it embarrassingly wrong?

#83 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 11:31 PM:

My gaydar reads positive on most men under 25. No, it isn't wishful thinking. It's that young men these days act like gay men acted when I was young (if, indeed, I ever was; my mother claims I was born old...scared the hell out of her with my spooky stare when I was less than a month old).

I've downgraded the system to 'unreliable'. Now I assume that everyone in that age range is straight unless they tell me otherwise. Not that I want to date them anyway.

Patrick - My experience matches your impression. The "popular" kids from my school were still living in Okemos ten years later, and far from happy. Organizing our reunion was a big deal to them. I remember one guy who came to the reunion in a green polyester jacket and used the phrase 'checking account' in such a way that we all knew he'd never had one of his very own.

It was sad. And funny. Ultimately kind of horrifying.

Oh, and the ones who got married right after high school were either divorced or weighed 300 pounds.

#84 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 12:11 AM:

"if everything goes wrong and they wind up standing there amidst the debris, what gender are they then?"

There's an awful lot of men, in that situation who will feel "pussified". Reasons...as far as I can tell, a lot of US men are raised with the people around them alternating between telling them they're kings and telling them they're shit (or women). Naturally, this leads to uncertainty about masculinity and to exactly the behavior you described--egotism alternating with fragility. And--if there are any role models presented to boys trying to grow up to become men these days--damn if I know who they are. I mean, Ah-nold? Puh-lease! I can, without too much trouble, name a number of plausible young-woman-coming-of-age sf stories. I really had to rack my brains to find some about young men. (Heinline wrote a couple of them; I don't think they were honest, even when they were written. Poul Anderson, I think, had more and better things to say about the subject.)

So we seem to have arrived at a point where we have enculturated male gender-role uncertainly. This is a big fat cultural and political problem. As I wrote, early on in the California recall election discussion, it is discouraging how much recent electoral politics can be explained as an expression of the fears of men afraid of learning they aren't really "masculine."

#85 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 12:33 AM:

I haven't spent enough time or brain cells to be absolutely positive, and certainly it plays into my own prejudices as to how the world works and why people do the things they do--which ought to make it more suspect than your average run-of-the-mill passing fancy, but: I just can't shake the impression that Mrs. du Toit's maiden name was Mary Rosh.

#86 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 12:35 AM:

Graydon--

Oh, I know all about people getting gaydar amusingly wrong. However, gaydar doesn't have any human morphology underlying it.

Aside from the shape of the jaw, the hands and so on, there's a specific difference between men and women in the angle of the elbow, not to mention a difference in fat deposition patterns. To be blunt, we're talking beer bellies and thunder thighs. Among other physical traits.

I've theorized in the past, based on my analysis of the physical data, mixed with some social cues, and then had it confirmed, often by the individual, that I was correct in my supposition. No, I was not so rude as to ask. But I do pay attention.

#87 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 02:07 AM:

Oh, I should stop. And insofar as the tranny subthread goes, I have.

But one comment to Patrick (and Stuart), which I just found the perfect words for today in conversation: Privilege is not pleasure; rather, it simply hides from you the pain that you do not feel.

As such, it is, in fact, a Ponzi scheme to keep us all in line. We don't all suffer equally from the hierarchy of privilege, but every last one of us suffers from it: both from the privilege we own and the privilege we are denied. In the now nostalgically clean and happy 1980s, I used to name George Herbert Walker Bush as the man of ultimate privilege: sex, race, class, money, education, health, looks, you name it. But did he go to bed at night feeling "I've got it all; I'm a lucky guy"? I strongly doubt it. When one finds that feeling at all (and it's rare), it's in someone who has had to struggle mighty hard and whose struggle has worked out.

#88 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 03:34 AM:

Randolph Fritz wrote,

"Puh-lease! I can, without too much trouble, name a number of plausible young-woman-coming-of-age sf stories. I really had to rack my brains to find some about young men. (Heinline wrote a couple of them; I don't think they were honest, even when they were written. Poul Anderson, I think, had more and better things to say about the subject.)"

There have been LOTS of young-wereman-coming-of-age-stories. Plausibility is a different issue--plausibility to someone reading in the 1950s does not necessarily equate to 1960s to 1970s to 1980s, 1990s, 2000s... Some stuff does not "age" well, or has artifacts of its day. Consider e.g. "The Lady Who Sailed the Soul." Helen America goes off to the far north to have a pregnancy terminated, quietly, which isn't available not so far north. There have been various social mainstream thought changes which occurred from when that story was written, forward to contemporary times, and it's not been monotonic or linear change. I'm not saying the store has aged imperfectly, only that the social conditions which held sway when it was originally written and published, are different from today, and a contemporary reader would have a different perspective from a different cultural background and assumptions, than the reader when the story was published.

"The Lady Who Sailed the Soul"'snusualness for its time included that it focused on a female protagonist.... thinking about coming of age SF, up until _Ordeal in Otherwhere_, Andre Norton!!! had not done a novel with a female protagonist, all her Coming of Age SF novels to that points, had all had male protagonists!

For a sampling of some of her books that were male coming of age stories: The Xero Stone, Storm over Warlock, Beastmaster, Night of Masks, Starguard, Daybreak 2250 AD [one of several titles of it], the first book of the Solar Queen stories.... there are lots more of them. David Gerrold's written coming of age stories, with male leads. Diane Duane's written fantasy with male coming of age stories (The Door into Fire, for example).

There's Warchild by Karin Lowachee [SF], There's that first novel of David Feintuch's. There's Voyage to Eney by Roland Green -- while the character's not a teenager, it's still a coming of age novel, the character goes off on what's essentially a voyage of self-discovery starting off at the bottom of the ship hierarchy. Catherine Asaro's novel _Moonshadow_ is a coming of age novel with a late teenaged male lead.


Fantasy, there's the Belgariad novels of David Eddings. [Plausibility is elastic? They -sold- well, that meant that they achieved critical mass of willing suspension of disbelief for a whole lot of people who kept buying books in the series.] There are the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time novels.


I don't notice a paucity of male coming of age novels in fantasy or science fiction... but I do notice that there isn't the near-nonexistence of books with non-token females in them that there was when I was a child reading fantasy and science fiction.

#89 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 03:39 AM:

One thing I wonder though about privilege: Is it by definition unearned? Sex, race, looks--these are all unearned. But things like money, class, education--you can be born into the first two, but you can also work your way into them, while education requires effort from everyone who gets it. There is respect accorded to those who get doctorates, the privilege that goes with that is by definition earned. Then there's fame and popularity, which you can be born into to a certain extent, but is generally earned. A-list celebrities generally get there through a lot of hard work.

#90 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 04:19 AM:

Sounds interesting in a moderately appaling way. I'll have to look it up and curl my lip at it. It does strike me that simply being able to call an essay 'The Pussification of the American Male' is linked to the sudden semi-respectability of magazines like _Ralph_, designed for men who want to rebel against SNAGishness, but need someone else to give them permission to be mildly loutish under the guise of casting off PC oppression.

As for me, one of my closest male friends is a total pussy and what's more, has no balls at all. But perhaps du Toit was thinking of a different species...

#91 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 04:28 AM:

Kevin wrote: You're not ready to admit that spotting a transexual is a task no different than spotting a toupee or identifying a secret ingredient, and individuals with more sensitivity and/or training are going to be able to suss out most.

Ah well. Graydon's response was perfect: You don't know, you're just certain. And trying further arguments with someone arrogant enough to believe he's always right when the truth is he's only always certain he's right is futile.

#92 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:22 AM:

Kevin notes

money, class, education--you can be born into the first two, but you can also work your way into them, while education requires effort from everyone who gets it. There is respect accorded to those who get doctorates, the privilege that goes with that is by definition earned.

Education is NOT the same as possession of a degree. I know many individuals who are polymaths, voracious readers and creators, who for one reason or another don't have the Union Card of even a bachelor's degree. And also the opposite; there are lots of folks who do just what it takes (in some cases letting their families bully schools and/or professors with prestige or money as their levers) to get their degrees, and never learn a thing.

This is not to discount education and degrees entirely -- that's a kettle of worms of a whole other color -- but let's not equate them.

#93 ::: Stephen Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:22 AM:

> Actually, behavioral research has shown that there
> is no correlation between arrogance and
> competence. In fact, there is more of an inverse
> correlation, statistically.

New Scientist, in its typically mildly annoying fashion, ran an article about how research showed people were much worse at things than they thought they were. Upon closer reading of the article though, what the study had shown was that most peoples opinion of their abilities was towards the median from the 'correct' value.

This sounds reasaonable enough, but not quite so headline worthy.

#94 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:39 AM:

Debbie Notkin wrote:

In the now nostalgically clean and happy 1980s, I used to name George Herbert Walker Bush as the man of ultimate privilege: sex, race, class, money, education, health, looks, you name it. But did he go to bed at night feeling "I've got it all; I'm a lucky guy"?

A good question; often, when the concept of "privilege" has come up in a conversation I've had (or witnessed), the individual taking up the mantle of the marginalized seems to implicitly assume that everyone of "privilege" actually realizes what they have, and enjoys it to the hilt, and is somehow free from the fears and foibles of the human condition because of it.

Hey! An opportunity to sneak one of my half-dozen or so favorite poems into the thread, Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory:"

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich 96 yes, richer than a king 96
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

#95 ::: Scott Again ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:41 AM:

Yes indeed, E.A. Robinson could write that immortal poem, but I couldn't even figure out how to put the italics tags in the proper place. I guess quoteliness isn't next to godliness after all.

#96 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 07:27 AM:

Posted by: Kevin Andrew Murphy on November 17, 2003 03:39 AM
One thing I wonder though about privilege: Is it by definition unearned? Sex, race, looks--these are all unearned. But things like money, class, education--you can be born into the first two, but you can also work your way into them,

Some are born [great], some achieve [greatness], and some have [greatness] thrust upon them.

I think that applies to each the conditions you named above.

while education requires effort from everyone who gets it.

Education may require effort from everyone who gets it, but not everyone gets it, and it does not require the same amount of effort from everyone. If education were rolling a boulder up a hill, not everyone would be starting from the same height, and there'd be a significant few paying people to help them push.

Not everyone's parents read them books every night before they went to bed, from their birth up until they could read the books for themselves (as mine did, for example.) Not everyone's parents could read, in fact.

#97 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 09:33 AM:

In re identifying transexuals by bone structure: _The Armored Rose_ (a book about female fighters in the SCA) has somewhat on sex differences in bone structure, but also claims there's a (from memory) 10% overlap between men and women. It was such things as what angle with the wrist the knuckles default to. It was claimed to be parallel for most men and at an angle for most women--the book described how to modify standard sword strokes for women/people with that sort of hand structure.

#98 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 11:09 AM:

the individual taking up the mantle of the marginalized seems to implicitly assume that everyone of "privilege" actually realizes what they have, and enjoys it to the hilt, and is somehow free from the fears and foibles of the human condition because of it

I think what is most insidious about male privilege is that, as with white privilege, the vast majority of its beneficiaries do not realise they have it, and will in fact vociferously deny its existence when it is pointed out to them.

#99 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 11:38 AM:

In re identifying transexuals by bone structure

In re identifying anyone by bone structure: I recall reading about a project in London in which 16th-century skeletons were identified age/sex by archaeologists using the same techniques they used to identify skeletons dug up out of prehistoric graves - with the difference that the results could be checked, since the age and sex of the people buried there were known. The result, as I remember, was something like a 30% success rate: the archaeologists would have done better if they'd simply nominated the skeletons male and female alternately or at random. I've been dubious about anyone who claims to know the difference between male and female bone structure ever since...

#100 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 12:44 PM:

Haven't read ALL the comments, having come late to the table once again. So please bear with me.

I came across the pussification essay on another blog actually, and it reminded me of Dave Sim's (author of Cerebus)Five Tangents.

http://www.tcj.com/232/tangent0.html

(Dave Sim's typesetter, a woman, refused halfway through to finish laying the type for the article.)

The hasty generalization seems to be at play here: How is it possible for women as a whole to want to do away with x, y, or z, when many of us participate in such activities? (Me, I play video games, read comics, watch hockey AND wrestling--both of which are as violent as boxing--as well as participate in any number of "girly" activities. Where am I pussifying the entire male gender merely by participating in things that I enjoy? Could it be possible that those pussified men actually enjoy discussing relationships, decorating their apartments, or cooking or whatever?? Heaven forbid.)

I think that Du Toit feels threatened by choices made that he doesn't agree with. But his language is telling--if a man isn't being a man, he's behaving like a woman, and over and over again, it's drilled in his essay just how demeaning "female" behaviour is. Not just female behaviour which challenges the man, but what he ascribes to our natural tendancies.....our nurturing (a generalization if ever there was one) nature subverts male dominance, and pussifies men everywhere.

I guess I'm preaching to the choir, but it seems that Mr. Du Toit thinks that men and women only come in single flavours....anything else is the result of something unnatural, something that dilutes the essence of gender. He says that once men could be expected to put life and property on the line for principle....as if women were incapable of such a thing. He ascribes various traits as belonging to a single gender, a patently stupid and gross analysis of the range of human behaviours.

His statement near the end of the essay, saying that rape is because men are lashing out against pussification, almost comes to the point of justifying rape. His premise is false. White boys buying rap, rape statistics on college campus, and binge drinking aren't statistics based on pussification. He gives us a false cause and effect, but ties them all together to say, "See, look what you women are doing to us?" As if rape, alcoholism and bad taste in music never existed before this century.

UGH.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 12:59 PM:

Raging Dave, I posted a message about that in your own topic as soon as I spotted the guy.

Yonmei, the accuracy with which we can determine gender from skeletal remains is in the ninety percents.

Anecdotally, some people are much better than others at spotting gender. I think I recall M.F.K. Fisher writing about this. I'm willing to believe that Kevin Murphy is good at it.

Bits of this conversation remind me of an interaction I once saw a friend of mine have in another online venue. He was, by all the reports I ever heard (never mind, okay?), a truly excellent lay. He happened to mention in some conversation or other that a girlfriend of his had told him that he was the best she'd ever had. A number of women who hung out in that venue popped up to say that that couldn't be true. She hadn't meant it, they told him; that's just something women sometimes tell their lovers.

He was bemused. Telling me the story later, he said, "I asked them what women say when they really want to say 'you're the best I've ever had', but none of them ever answered me."

#102 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 01:12 PM:

The problem with saying "group X is privileged, group not-X is not" is that some members of X are more privileged than others, and not all members of not-X are equally badly off. In fact, often some members of not-X are better off than some members of X. Thus people who don't want to believe that group X really does (on average) enjoy more privileges than not-X can pull out all sorts of anecdotes showing instances of not-X who enjoy some privilege that some instances of X do not.

For that matter, it's not clear to me that privilege is one-dimensional, even when comparing individuals rather than groups. It's entirely possible that one individual has some un-earned advantages, while another individual has other un-earned advantages. Which one is more privileged depends on which advantages matter more, something rarely agreed on by all observers.

I think it's very relevant to discuss specific differences, but if you get too general, the whole issue becomes un-debatable.

However, if the best example of female privilege anyone can come up with is that females are allowed to wear pants OR dresses, then female privilege must be pretty minimal!

#103 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 02:03 PM:

Without putting myself through the awfulness of reading du Toit myself, it occurs to me that I'm probably a prime example of exactly the sort of thing he objects to. I grew up in an extended family dominated by women; the only person who gave a damn about masculinity was my emotionally absent father ("...and to Him, we no longer speak"). I was lousy at sports, good at poetry and theatre, and apparently born with an almost total absence of the gun-fetish gene. I did not learn that girls let boys win for the sake of their egos; I learned that "you will be beaten by many people who are better than you, and lots of them will be girls." And I also learned to do my own damn laundry and cook for myself and that washing dishes was not a task that a dick in any way inhibited unless you did it very wrong. Not to mention that putting the seat down is so deeply ingrained in me that I almost always do it when I'm home alone now.

And I grew up to discover that I was bisexual and that my internal landscape is probably as much female as male. (My external landscape looks like Silent Bob's Mini-Me, though. Go figure.) I heard Eddie Izzard define a transvestite as a "male tomboy" and an alarm went off. I don't know if these things have anything at all to do with the way I was raised; my father would blame everything on my mom's "strident feminism" making me "ashamed to be a man." Which I'm not, except to be embarassed by the du Toits of the world, and feel compelled to protest that We're Not All Like That.

I guess what it comes down to is wondering how this guy thinks I suffer. I'm happy and well-adjusted; I have a job that keeps me in books and doesn't follow me home; I have family and friends who love me. I'm not threatened by the fact that my wife's income is higher than mine, or "emasculated" by having taken a hyphenated name. I'm constantly in awe at the possibilities of my own beautiful ambiguity. If this is the result of being pussified, then please renew my subscription. And if I'm really missing something from not being in the whole macho scene, I haven't a clue what it might be, after almost thirty years. Girly pantywaist c*nt, right here, and proud of it.

As an aside, this kind of thing always makes me think of Taran Wanderer, which I'm sure I'm misquoting from faulty memory: "I've heard men complain about doing women's work, and I've heard women complain about doing men's work, but I've never heard the work complain about who was doing it."

#104 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 02:31 PM:

The example of pants or dresses was an example of female privilege in the case of one 1971 northern California kindergarten class.

If you want a more significant examples of female privilege, you look towards adulthood. Women, in the US, have a distinct advantage in child custody arrangements.

Yonmei,

First you invented an "all" to strike down, now you invent an "always." You're tilting at windmills.

Teresa's article lists 94% accuracy in determining sex based on skeletal morphology. That percentage fits what I'd mean by "most."

Teresa,

Thanks for the citation and the anecdote.

I feel like the little boy being told he can't be certain the Emperor is not wearing clothes.

#105 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 02:36 PM:

Wow. The things I miss by not currently having 'net access at home. (Or by being away. Or both. But that was the week before...)

One tangential thing I want to add is: I have known some damn convincing TS/TG folk. The only thing that generally gives it away to me (in such convincing cases) is forearms, and even then not always. (I know there's the whole Adam's apple thing, but some men just don't have prominent ones, so either way it's not always a sign.)

More topically to the original post: I will never, ever, ever get the whole Gender Role thing, and I say this as someone who has never had even a shred of gender dysphoria and who is pretty much as het as it gets. I'm decidedly female, and I decidedly like me the boys, but I also like cars, and football (American), and pretty women (aesthetically, not sexually), and geek toys, and I'm good at (pre-calculus-level) math, and I can program, and... well, you get the idea. The idea that that's somehow unfeminine, when I am, well, FEMALE and doing these things, just boggles my mind. The idea that men might somehow be less manly if I continue to do these things is downright unfathomable. By the same token, the idea that, say, a man interested in figure skating is somehow less manly is equally mind-boggling to me.

But then, I don't understand a lot of extreme-spectrum-end social and political views, so, there ya go.

#106 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 04:02 PM:

Yonmei, the accuracy with which we can determine gender from skeletal remains is in the ninety percents.

Teresa, thanks for the link to the article. I tried to find a link to the osteoarcheology story I recall about poor correlation, but I can't.

Kevin: If you want a more significant examples of female privilege, you look towards adulthood. Women, in the US, have a distinct advantage in child custody arrangements.

Primarily, however, this is because women are generally the ones with primary responsibility for childcare. If that's "female privilege" it's unquestionably an earned privilege. Men get to earn this privilege too - but it's hard work. ;-)

First you invented an "all" to strike down, now you invent an "always." You're tilting at windmills.

Nope. All I'm saying is that quite logically you cannot know you can identify transsexuals: you can merely be certain of it. Which are two different things. You are rearing windmills for yourself and claiming that I'm tilting at them.

I feel like the little boy being told he can't be certain the Emperor is not wearing clothes.

Except that the little boy was right: he was pointing at a naked Emperor at the time.

I am absolutely willing to believe that you have in the past identified individual transsexuals as transsexual. What I'm not willing to believe is the kind of sweeping (and bigoted) claim embodied in: "Spotting a trannie is like spotting a toupee. Some are more obvious than others, but with most there's an obvious self-delusion of "people are being too polite/embarrassed to say anything" being interpreted as "Nobody can tell!" Even the most convincing tend to raise the "What's up with her?" flags, usually by dressing in a kittenish outfit that even a midwestern cheerleader would find too girly. That and the fact that most women tend to accessorize to convey their own personality/interests, plus match the occasion, whereas trannies usually accessorize to convey a message of vanilla femininity decades out of style, and usually wear fashions at least two levels too fancy for wherever they are."

That's crap, Kevin: and what's more, it's offensive and bigoted crap.

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 04:32 PM:

Teresa, without knowing more about your friend's conversation with these women, they sound like they were just trying to make him feel like shit. Why a bunch of them would do that is unclear.

Now, if it was his first time, I'd believe it...guys usually aren't too good at it their first time. I understand women generally don't have too great a time their first go, either, but I have no personal experience of that.

#108 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 04:36 PM:

I guess what it comes down to is wondering how this guy thinks I suffer.

He doesn't think you suffer, he thinks he suffers because you're happy.

#109 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:21 PM:

Okay, is this deeply weird? I have never ever told any man whatsoever he was the best lay I'd ever had. I mean, they're all different. One is great this way and somebody else is better that way. And they're different. (Though I'll admit to a weakness for guitar players 'cause they're so good with their hands.) Am I deeply weird here or what?

MKK

#110 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:38 PM:

Yonmei,

Perhaps I went a bit too far with "self-deluded." Doubtless there are many who are painfully aware that not everyone is buying their new gender and are boldly keeping up a brash front, saying things like "Nobody knows" and "Very few people can tell" in hopes that people will be sensitive and play along and shut up about it.

Unfortunately, I really don't like playing along. I don't refer to people who had ugly marriages and nasty divorces as "never married," nor do I think that someone who had a first time they'd rather forget is still a virgin the next day.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:50 PM:

pericat, while I don't disagree, your statement could have stopped after your third word without diminishing its truth.

#112 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:50 PM:

Mary Kay, I don't think you're weird. I would tend to agree with you.

#113 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:51 PM:

Kevin, let's suppose you're a white person living in the US and you have a couple of close friends who happen to be black, and you number among your acquaintance several more people who happen to be black. That is black by the American definition, which can include people of ancestry 7/8ths white.

Someone on Making Light, in a discussion about races, posts a claim that he can always tell a black person from a white person, and he can do so because (and then comes out with some predictable racist stereotypes which I won't make the effort to research).

Your black friends and acquaintances do not correspond to this man's stereotypes.

Tell me, Kevin: are you going to think: "Wow, this man claims to be a really perceptive observer, clearly my friends and acquaintances are exceptions, since he's obviously judging by observation"?

To be honest, I have no idea what your reaction would be under those circumstances. Perhaps you would take the man's word for it that he's a perceptive observer and not a bit bigoted: he's just got it all figured out that the racist stereotypes are true, and after all he didn't claim they were true of all black people, so your friends are exceptions.

But I just got angry. You're a bigot, Kevin: and I don't believe you can be particularly observant about the very thing you are bigoted about.

#114 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:52 PM:

Mary Kay, if someone told me that I was the best they'd ever had, I'd be unable to avoid several thoughts:

1. What do I say in response? The word "incomparable" could come in very handy here!
2. How likely is it that they're telling the truth, vs. just flattering me?
3. How large a sample space am I being compared against, anyway?
4. Are they aware of all these disconcerting questions they've raised? Why didn't they just say "you were great!" and leave it at that?

Somehow, "best ever" introduces an uncomfortable (to me, at least) implication of competition.

#115 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:04 PM:

My take on the whole "gender role" issue:

Correlation is not Causation!!!!!

(It applies to a lot of BS about racial stereotypes, too).

Just because many members of group X act/feel/look/etc. a certain way, doesn't mean that all members of group X want to go along with the trend.

And just because some group "naturally" (whatever the heck that means) has some characteristic, doesn't mean they/we can't try to change, nor that it's right to attack members of the group who don't share that characteristic.

Du Toit and others like him talk about how males are "naturally" aggressive, and any attempt to temper that is oppressive. Well, there are lots of "natural" characteristics and behaviors that we inhibit through various social means, in order to live in each others' company. I'm not a big fan of Ritalin and other pharmaceutical treatments for ADD/AHDD/etc., but du Toit's argument that the behavior diagnosed as AHDD is "natural" doesn't carry much weight with me. A high rate of infant mortality is "natural", too. So what?

#116 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:12 PM:

Is the female "advantage" in child custody really such an advantage?

I was out to dinner with a bunch of Atlanta webloggers recently, and had a long talk with Dwight Meredith, a really nice and intelligent guy, about autism.

One thing he mentioned was the large number of marriages that break up once a child turns out to be autistic, and that five out of six husbands bail, leaving the mother to raise the child.

If we did the numbers on child custody, what would we find? Lots of men trying to share custody with their childrens' mothers? Lots of mothers trying to get child support?

Mostly, I've seen the second, over and over again.

Doesn't mean the first doesn't exist--I've seen it, too. But when we're talking society--large numbers, individual cases be damned--who has the advantage?

(Speaking as a first-time father with a 159 day-old daughter, I find it distressing to argue points of child rearing in terms of "whose advantage"?...but I digress.)

#117 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 06:47 PM:

I think what my first sketchy thoughts on this point at are two things. First, that, at this time, there are many men who have obsessive masculinity doubts and that it is the policy of our radical right to exacerbate them with the intention of exploiting them. Second, that the common model of masculinity we are presented with and which I reject as implausible for all, or even most, men is that of the adventurer and warrior. It would be natural for men who believe that masculinity is expressed primarily through warlike behavior and whose masculinity has been placed in doubt to go to war. I wonder if du Toit is one the people feeding the monster, as it were--if he is "on message".

I also wonder if this was typical of the right-wing regimes of the last century. I know the Nazis thought like this; I wonder if it is a mark of fascism in general?

#118 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 07:09 PM:

Xopher, I need an editor rather more often than I get one.

(damn. there's extra words in that sentence, too.)

#119 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 08:09 PM:

Sennoma wrote:

I think what is most insidious about male privilege is that, as with white privilege, the vast majority of its beneficiaries do not realise they have it, and will in fact vociferously deny its existence when it is pointed out to them.

When I used the word "often," it was in reference to anecdotal evidence, and it was accurate in that context. When you use the phrase "vast majority," you're guessing. Unless you're a very powerful telepath, but I doubt that even Teresa's fans are Slans.

I don't disagree that "white privilege" and "male privilege" are quite real and potent in many circumstances, and I don't doubt that there are quite a few million beneficiaries of both that are blissfully unaware of just how fortunate they are to have been born when and where they were.

However, they are circumstantial advantages. Do you get this worked up about the existence of "Chinese Privilege" in Beijing, or "Japanese Privilege" in Tokyo, or "Indian Privilege" in the Bollywood film community? Were I (I'll confirm, so you needen't assume, that I'm a honky's honky of Kraut-Mick extraction) to be dropped in any one of those settings, how far would my "white privilege" get me? Hell, how far would it get me at 2 AM on a Saturday night in the Frogtown neighborhood of Minneapolis, or if I were walking along Franklin Avenue in the same city at the same time?

I'm not for a second trying to argue that racial "privilege" is just fine because they have it everywhere else, too. I also quite understand that those who live in areas where "white privilege" holds sway can only be expected to try and fight back against it before they tackle the problem of, say, "Bedouin privilege." I'm just curious about the apparent belief that circumstantial privileges of race and geographic origin, which have been part of human society as far back as we've been notching sticks and scribing clay tablets, is both a) exclusive to white folks and b) that they all drink deeply and equally from its font of unearned delights.

I try to keep a level head about the historical situation in which I find myself, and in my opinion the level of privilege I enjoy by virtue of having been born in North America in 1978 outweighs, by several orders of magnitude, the level of privilege I enjoy by virtue of being Irish-German. The latter hasn't saved me from poverty, menial jobs, rustbucket automobiles, houses collapsing around my ears, attempted muggings, or getting screwed over by Wells-Fargo, long may they roll a boulder up a hill in Corporate Hell.

However, the former privilege, the accident of the time and place of my birth, banishes even those aggravations to the status of "minor inconveniences." I have never known war up close, nor had to avoid landmines and snipers on my way to school, nor been told that my social station is divine justice for my actions in a former life.

I wasn't forced to take up my father's trade (he's an auto mechanic, the son of an English teacher, and the grandson of a dry goods merchant), or forced into an arranged marriage early in my teens. I have never had to bow my head to another person out of anything but common courtesy. I washed dishes and waited tables in high school, rather than working in a coal mine or being pressed into service aboard a vessel of war.

I can reasonably expect to live to a riduculous old age, assuming I don't step in front of a bus, thanks to medical science, comfortable living, and decent nutrition from childhood on. It's likely I won't end up dying of scurvy, toothless and broken, at the age of 35, unless I really do get my wish to write fantasy for a living. And then it'll be nobody's fault but my own.

I routinely chat with e-mail pals in Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, and Europe, not to mention every part of the United States, and I enjoy the wisdom and wackiness of places like this-- all thanks to the cheap lump of silicon and plastic on my desk. A lump, by the way, with more raw power than the sum total of the computers that NASA used to send men to the moon just over three decades ago. A three-years obsolete iMac with a hard drive that would have been worth about thirty billion dollars (in 1970 dollars!) just eight years before I was born. I have a personal library that any genius of the Enlightenment would cut his or her legs off to possess for its nonfiction alone-- and they'd get Heinlein and Leiber and C.S. Forester to boot.

I can pursue any college degree I want, write anything I damn well please, and seek any future I desire, be it comfortable obscurity or political office or even super-villainy.

Nobody I know has ever died of the Black Plague. Or Smallpox. Or even caught Polio.

I make my living in the most ridiculous fashion imaginable, writing and selling material for fantasy roleplaying games. In fact, I sell a great deal of that material in PDF format-- I am paid for high-quality ones and zeroes in somebody's inbox.

You can bet your ass, your house, and everything you'll ever own that I am 100% cognizant of and grateful for the time and place in which I live, and that I credit it for the comfort and opportunity it has afforded me. Miniver Cheevy was a git. While I love the study of history, I wouldn't trade my quiet little place in the age of frozen pizza, Diet Dr. Pepper, public libraries, computer games, antibiotics, the 'net, and SCUBA diving for all the thrones and laurels in ancient Rome.

So I hope you'll forgive me for suggesting that it might also be insidious, the way some people who also enjoy every privilege of chronological happenstance that I do seem totally oblivious to just what a massive lifestyle factor those privileges are in comparison to other privileges they might speak of.

P.S.

Wait. I'm sorry. Having re-read my post, I'm going to leave it as it is, but I'm also going to say that all of this indeterminate "they" stuff strikes me as some profoundly cowardly shit, not sly or clever or simple tit-for-tat. I'm not just talking to an unnamed, hypothetical third party-- I'm talking to you, Sennoma. In return for your condescension, I offer you my bemused opinion that your privilege-detection apparatus is due for a tune-up. Being white where I live has never gotten me so much as a free drink at a cash bar, but being an American child of the very late 20th century-- oh god, there's an unearned windfall that has delivered the goods.


#120 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 09:35 PM:

Yonmei wrote,

"Kevin: If you want a more significant examples of female privilege, you look towards adulthood. Women, in the US, have a distinct advantage in child custody arrangements.

"Primarily, however, this is because women are generally the ones with primary responsibility for childcare. If that's "female privilege" it's unquestionably an earned privilege. Men get to earn this privilege too - but it's hard work. ;-)"

Go to various other countries, and custody goes to the father, not the mother.

In general, it doesn't much seem like "female privilege" to me -- half he people who get married, don't get divorced. If there's no divorce involved, it's almost always relevant -- it's a "privilege" that applies to less than half the women even in the USA, when looking at the entire population of women! Some women never get married, some women never have children, and most women who have children don't get involved in child custody battles.

And as others have noted, being legally awarded child custody, doesn't mean assured delivery of child support payments, and doesn't even mean assurance of security for the children and preventing an abusive genetic material donor from court mandated, lethal visitation rights.

There's a law that got passed in recent years in Massachusetts, named after the first name of girl on whose behalf the legislation was enacted, which removed the father's parental rights for such things as visitation rights -- he's was given a life sentence for murdering his daughter's mother. The girl did not want to spend any time with her mother's cold-blooded murderer, but until that law was passed, as her surviving parent he had legal parental rights.

#121 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 11:19 PM:

Dan, right-on! (You sound like my husband.)

Mary Kay, I agree.

And in regards to: "If you want a more significant examples of female privilege, you look towards adulthood. Women, in the US, have a distinct advantage in child custody arrangements." I have read in several places that when men SEEK custody they win in 9 out of 10 cases. It's just that most men don't want custody. I don't have actual figures to hand, but frankly that sounds very plausible to me.

#122 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 11:47 PM:

Yonmei,

Again, this "always." In one post you admit I never said it, then in the next you reimagine I've said it again. What's up with that?

Regardless, I'll go ahead and vivisect your straw man for you: "Black"--or more fashionably "African-American"--can mean a lot of things, depending on what you're looking at: 1. an antiquated legal definition, including such words as "quartaroon" and "octaroon," useful in the study of legal cases such as Plessy vs. Ferguson, but of limited relevance under current law; 2. a cultural definition still in use such that bi- or multi-racial individuals like Halle Berry or Tiger Woods can be considered black for purposes of coup-counting with the Oscars and so on; 3. an American subculture tracing itself back to the end of the civil war, separate from recent African immigrant communities; 4. an American English dialect with various African-language-based structures in place, notable being the use of cumulative negative and the use of "be" to form the habitual tense (lacking in English but present in many African languages).

Someone claiming to be able to identify "blackness" is doing what? Researching family geneologies to show that KKK and NAACP members have a few of the same ancestors, possibly all descended from Thomas Jefferson's mistress? Comparing human morphology and noting certain traits so as to be able to place ancestry? Taking note of certain dialect patterns? There are offensive stereotypes and slurs based on all of these, but there are also ordinary facts underlying them.

If we lived in a world with perfect surgery and perfect acting lessons, no one would ever know that someone was ever anything other than what they've decided themselves to be. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world, and I refuse to pretend otherwise.

#123 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 01:43 AM:

Scott, it's not all about you. Really it's not. But if I were collecting anecdotes to support my comment about vehement denial, your nasty little screed would be a keeper. It's a shame to let bullies control the discourse though, so for that reason only I'll add a brief response.

Do you get this worked up about the existence of "Chinese Privilege" in Beijing

What I mean by "white privilege" (as applied to modern Western society, which is what we were discussing) is not at all the same thing as "Chinese privilege in Beijing". It is a pervasive slope in the playing field that benefits white people (yes, like me; and oh yes, I'm male: that seems to be important information for you and Tom and Kevin) over and above the "accident of time and place of birth" you so, um, thoroughly described. The fortunate circumstances to which you refer are not equally distributed, and that's where privilege comes in. Here's a short description of white privilege, and here's another which touches on similarities with male privilege.

Being white where I live has never gotten me so much as a free drink at a cash bar

Nonsense. That you can so blithely make that claim is the reason I used the word "insidious", which seems to have upset you so.

#124 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 01:48 AM:

The privileged seldom recognize their privilege--it is just how things are. Hence the famous "sense of entitlement", which is much more characteristic of white middle-class men than most poor people I have know.

#125 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 02:28 AM:

Yonmei, if you'll back down on always, predictable racist stereotypes, plain old stereotypes (2x), and bigoted (2x), plus that highhanded which I won't make the effort to research, and work on more nuanced readings, I'll be happier about this discussion.

You don't know whether Kevin is better than the average bear when it comes to spotting transsexuals. You're assuming that he can't be, and belaboring him with that assumption. Know what? I'm better at spotting transsexuals than are most of the people I hang out with. I know I can't spot them all; I said so at the beginning. I also know that there's a big gap between looking convincing in a still photo (which few are anyway), and moving, acting, and talking like someone who's been raised female.

There is no necessary correlation between being gifted with the belief that one has been assigned to the wrong gender, and having the acting ability to assume one's preferred gender without fear of detection. I will unhesitatingly defend transsexuals' rights to modify themselves in accordance with their self-images, but I refuse to pretend that that modification is undetectable when I can see that it isn't.

#126 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 03:47 AM:

Sennoma wrote:

Scott, it's not all about you. Really it's not.

Well, when you don't have the courage or the courtesy to attack anything but third-party hypotheticals with your insinuations, you can have it any way you like ex post facto, I suppose. You can smudge other specific participants in the conversation with them, then piously back off and claim you were doing no such thing.

From a certain viewpoint, it's a much cleverer tactic than actually naming names. Kudos, rhetorical ninja, on a fine vanishing act.

oh yes, I'm male: that seems to be important information for you and Tom and Kevin

Why is it important? I didn't speculate in either of my previous posts to this thread about your gender or your race. Am I being overly generous in assuming that you actually read those posts all the way through?

It's a shame to let bullies control the discourse though, so for that reason only I'll add a brief response.

Ah. I see. You won't make an effort to answer any of my specific points, and you'll contribute nothing but shiny, all-new condescension to the conversation, because disagreeing with you (heck, I didn't even disagree with you all the way) is tantamount to being a big meanie.


Nonsense. That you can so blithely make that claim is the reason I used the word "insidious", which seems to have upset you so.

Actually, it wasn't the phrase "insidious" at all, but your citation of "evidence" that was self-evidently imaginary, and your relentlessly smarmy "I'm more penitent and aware about this subject than the rest of you" song and dance. But then, had you actually read what I wrote (seems I was being generous), those points wouldn't have been kept secret from you.

You know, I'm a thick-skulled egotist, well-equipped with all the latest tools for being wrong and loud about it. But at least I try to finish the arguments I take part in, and I don't try to shift the blame for my own cowardice or laziness to the people I'm arguing with when I run away.

Randolph Fritz wrote:

Hence the famous "sense of entitlement", which is much more characteristic of white middle-class men than most poor people I have know.

The romanticization of rebel/outsider/victim status goes on even in the ranks of people who pride themselves on being happy cogs in the supposed hierarchy of moral and economic authority. It's actually really funny, if head-spinning irony floats your boat-- the "victim mentality" is "pathetic pussification" and "sad whining" when liberals adopt it, but it's a courageous counter-revolution when folks like Kim du Toit try it on.

We all engage in doublethink, I'm sure, but some people do their doublethinking out loud. Justly are they slain by their own kvetchery.


#127 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 03:53 AM:

Teresa, I've been trying to compose a response to this, and I can't. (I've been trying to find a report of the study I remember, and I can't: not a case of "can't be bothered to research", I assure you. More a case of "Bloody hell, how many medieval graveyards have we been digging up in London, and how many academic studies have been done on each graveyard?") I can't discuss Kevin's unthinking use of stereotypes without using the word "stereotypes": I can't point out the parallels between bigotry about transsexuals and bigotry about races without using the word bigotry: and I don't think I'm getting anywhere anyway. I've no wish to be disemvowelled, and I'm angry and upset enough about this - still, even after a night's sleep - that I'm just going to leave this conversation.

#128 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 07:56 AM:

I also remember the London dig with the weird results that Yonmei has mentioned, so she didn't dream it. IIRC, I read about it either in "History", "Archaeology Today" or some other similar general audience magazine, sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. The way I remember it, it was "We have a C.18 graveyard that needs moving, what a good opportunity to test this stuff -- oops." But the "oops" wasn't just gender, it was also age and cause of death. If you took those three things, the results were something like Yonmei's quoted 30% correct. I recall them being reasonable on gender, though not up in the 90s, feeble on age, and totally pathetic on cause of death. A quick Google on likely words hasn't brought up anything useful. However, I also remember the article saying that this was a wake-up call and techniques needed to be refined, and this was more than ten years ago, so things might have improved out of all recognition.

On privilege, I think it's very much harder to see the beam of one's own privilege than the mote of someone else's, so I'd probably do much better not to point out the various things that have raised my hackles on this thread.

#129 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 10:15 AM:

I'm willing to believe that London dig yielded those results. That doesn't mean we can't determine gender from skeletal remains, because we most certainly can. I've heard that in the past, archaeologists and anthropologists would sometimes arbitrarily decide that all the bigger skeletons were male, and the smaller ones were female. That was a long time ago. Check out that link I posted a while back.

I don't feel like I know what that London study actually said. The accuracy of parish records is always an interesting question. I'd want to know how they dealt with that major source of uncertainty. I'd also like to know what methods they used to assay the skeletons. "This didn't work" isn't the same as "This can't be done."

We're getting better at this stuff all the time. Forensic anthropology is a growing science.

#130 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 10:26 AM:

I came across the pussification essay on another blog actually, and it reminded me of Dave Sim's (author of Cerebus)Five Tangents.

Wow. You know, I know Sim's a misogynist nutcase, and I keep convincing myself that he can't possibly be as bad as that, because, hey, Church & State was pretty damn good after all. And he keeps coming up with new ways to be utterly despicable.

Weirdly, he seems to be friends with a lot of cool people. I always wonder how they manage to put up with him.

Pericat: You're probably right. Xopher's probably more so, though.

Rachel: Thanks. I applaud your taste in husbands. :)

#131 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 11:04 AM:

Two quick comments --

Sennoma, if you think my comment meant I care about your gender, you didn't read what I think I wrote. And I'll accept TNH's judgment on whether what I wrote conveyed that.

T, it's clear that there are _some_ skeletal measurements that actually can correlate well with gender -- the common ones used for many years of pelvic angle, pelvic size and such are not among the list you posted. Which means that a great many anthropologists probably Got It Wrong. And you cop to that in one of your more recent posts. It does mean, however, that one wants to know what measures someone is using before one believes them. Kevin does manage to get a lot of TG/TS folks right; and Yonmei is right that it's probably not all of them.

Cheers,
Tom

#132 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 02:12 PM:

I think I should give a mea culpa with regards to the post that offended Yonmei so, since while the facts were accurate, the tone was definitely poking fun at the various ways TG people fail to pass.

The question comes, however, of when is it appropriate to laugh when someone, frankly, looks ridiculous? Can you laugh at the man with the comb-over? At the woman whose bad facelift make her look like the love-child of Barbie and the Joker? Are we allowed to make Michael Jackson jokes, especially after the interview where he's telling Baba Wawa "I'm Peter Pan!" and you realize his face is what happens when you take a forty-something African-American man and try to resculpt it into a ten-year-old elvin-featured Edwardian English boy, as imagined by Disney?

You can only be respectful of personal choices to a point, usually when speaking directly to the person.

I'm remembering one day, years back, when I was sub teaching, and a young black man stayed after class and made an impassioned and eloquent speech about Malcolm X and the black struggle. After he left, a female (white) classmate who'd stayed to listen said, "He makes some good points, but it's hard to take him seriously when he's standing there with his clothes on inside-out and backwards."

THAT fashion statement lasted all of about a year.

#133 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 02:19 PM:

I think I should give a mea culpa with regards to the post that offended Yonmei so, since while the facts were accurate, the tone was definitely poking fun at the various ways TG people fail to pass.

The facts were not accurate.

The question comes, however, of when is it appropriate to laugh when someone, frankly, looks ridiculous?

Never.

(Unless the ridiculousness is intentional, and intended to provoke mirth.)

#134 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:02 PM:

"Oh dear," said Eeyore. "Pooh has gotten his head stuck in the honey pot again. How tragic."

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:10 PM:

I think there are a lot of TG people who are obvious. There are also a lot who are not obvious, but who can be spotted by a trained eye. There are some (it's impossible to know how many without extensive research utilizing hospital records &c.) who cannot be distinguished even by a trained person on the street. There may be some who can't be distinguished even by intimate examination, except by a physician trained in such things.

It's impossible to know how many you're missing, unless you do a double-blind test. If anyone on here has done one, please let us all know, and tell us your accuracy percentage. And your false-positives are also hard to suss out.

Like most gay people, I've had some folks tell me they could tell right away, others who were stunned when I told them, and a few who told me, of someone else, "Oh, c'mon, can't you tell that that guy is queer? Man, you must be blind! I can always tell." This while being blissfully unaware that I was being queer right in front of them -- and trying not to laugh.

Yes, there are also a lot of people who think they're harder to peg than they really are. Yes, there are some obnoxious fannish transexuals who insist that they are women, and that anyone who "claims" to be able to "tell" is just being a dirty sexist badguy deserving of immediate execution. But we also have some who are really wonderful people.

Category privilege is hard to see from inside. This is in part because one of the aspects of category privilege is the ability to see oneself as unmarked; as not being a member of a category (classic example: people who insist that they don't speak a dialect at all).

In the US in 2003, men (in general) are a privileged class. Women (in general) are not. Whites are; blacks aren't. This just means that IN GENERAL being male (or white) counts in your favor, and being female (or black) counts against you.

Note that I am a white male and Oprah Winfrey is a black female. Going from the generalization (even a true generalization) to the specific is a form of prejudice, and will sometimes get absurd results.

A professor of mine in college (Marilyn Frye of Michigan State University, in case you care) pointed out that while there are certain privileges "reserved" for women, in general the benefit of a sexist society goes to men as a class (not to be mistaken for always operating to the benefit of each individual man in every single case). Her analogy was a prison wall: the wall stops you from walking in from outside, just as it stops you from walking out from inside; yet the wall primarily exists for the benefit of those outside, and to the detriment of those within. (Yes, this analogy is imperfect. That's what makes it an analogy.)

#136 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:35 PM:

Scott: your citation of "evidence" that was self-evidently imaginary

On re-reading, my phrasing was clumsy. Mea culpa, definitely (which is why this further response, when I had meant to let it lie). Not that I don't stand by that opinion, but if I had not stated it as though I took it for fact (or if I had elaborated) perhaps it would not have set you off.

I listed some male perqs upthread; here are a few white ones:

- not being on the receiving end of the racial inequities in the criminal justice system
- being able, within financial limits, to choose where one will live and not worry about how the neighbours will react when one moves in
- seeing one's own race widely represented in the media
- seeing one's own race given a central role in the accepted versions of history -- local, national and global
- not feeling personally attacked when the nation elects supporters of the Confederacy to high office (Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, John Ashcroft, Dick Armey)
- never being asked to speak for, or assumed to represent, one's whole race
- in adverse circumstances (pulled over by the police, having a bad week at work, whatever it might be), not having to wonder about whether race is a factor

It's more than simply having to look harder to spot others like you when you are a member of a numerical minority ("Chinese privilege in Beijing"), and it stems from neither overt bigotry nor the casual racism of ignorance. It's something built in to our present society, so that it takes work to see it if you're white. Male privilege is even more subtle in the sense that numerical minority status does not enter into it. As for whether the "vast majority" of beneficiaries are oblivious to the slope of the playing field, well, perhaps "vast" is an overstatement; but would the field continue to slope so much if the majority were not either unaware of their advantage or all too willing to maintain it?

You said I don't disagree that "white privilege" and "male privilege" are quite real and potent in many circumstances, but then you also said Being white where I live has never gotten me so much as a free drink, which makes me think that you don't see what I mean by "white privilege" (or, by extension, "male privilege"). You certainly are a beneficiary of both: you can't avoid it. I am not blaming you for that, or calling you racist or sexist by making the observation. As for relentlessly smarmy "I'm more penitent and aware about this subject than the rest of you" song and dance -- well, I'm going to hear that a lot, if I am determined to talk to white males about white and male privilege. It's a cheap and easy way to dismiss an uncomfortable issue. So is the sophism that I cannot discuss the issue without hypocrisy, because being a white male I am as privileged as anyone. Surely the very least I can do is to discuss the issue: to acknowledge the existence of these advantages, keep them in mind, and bring them to others' attention. Overt racism has been shrivelling up and dying since it was dragged into the light of public awareness; it's a long slow death, but I do believe it's underway. I am hopeful that the same thing will happen with more subtle inequities.

#137 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:47 PM:

The question comes, however, of when is it appropriate to laugh when someone, frankly, looks ridiculous?

Is the person in question present?

If so, can you overwhelm or intimidate them should they choose not to view your ridicule with the appropriate bonhomie? --If not, consider enlisting backup, for safety's sake.

If the person is not present, is there anyone else present to whom you will be making these remarks who identifies with the general class of the person in question, or the specific class upon which hinges the point of hilarity? --Also, you might want to make sure that no one who might be considered "P.C." is present; though they may not appear to identify directly with the person in question, they may well take offense on general principle.

Otherwise, it is inappropriate to engage in this form of ridicule. "A gentleman," one might note, "is never caught doing such things." --One might well amend that to include "A gentleman of whatever gender."

A final note: an old college friend once told me the most delightful joke--one which it surprises me I'd never heard before, as I was born in Alabama, and spent most of my formative years south of the Mason-Dixon. We were sitting in a restaurant somewhere near the Shaker Heights neighborhood of Cleveland, as I recall, when he leans across the table with this wicked glint in his eye. (I don't recall the thread of conversation that prompted him to tell this joke, but it doesn't really matter.) "How do most jokes about black people begin?" he says.

We all shrug. One or two of us cock an eyebrow, perhaps; he's not the sort of person to tell this sort of joke, and we're all liberal arts college students in the late '80s: we were, my friends, P.C. ("Politically conscious," though. We knew even then that no one is ever correct. We were also, you see, post modern.)

"Gosh," says one of us. "I don't know. How do most jokes about, um, black people begin?"

And still with that glint in his eye, he looks ostentatiously over one shoulder, then over the other, then leans in and opens his mouth as if to begin the joke.

And that, you see, is how any joke about the ridiculousness of any class of people, ethnic or otherwise, begins.

#138 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 05:05 PM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

(Yes, this analogy is imperfect. That's what makes it an analogy.)

Well, it's imperfect, but it's still pretty decent.

I have a friend named Jason, a black man my age (25) who lives in an eastern suburb of St. Paul, MN and has for some time. There, he's just part of the social landscape-- quite an achiever, in fact. High school merit scholar, grad student in psychology, star of school and community theater, chief auditor for the area's nicest and biggest hotel. Nobody bugs him.

However, he's been pulled over, harrassed, and even detained multiple times while driving in northern Minnesota (two weeks ago, his vehicle was impounded and he was placed in jail for four hours by a county sheriff-- no charges were filed, no explanation was given, and he was unceremoniosuly told to "get out and stay out" of the county when they let him go-- his attorney is investigating the situation right now). It's happened so often that it's become a sick running joke among his circle of friends. It's the sort of thing I have trouble believing can happen north of the Mason-Dixon line in 2003... but it keeps fucking happening!

Now, Jason could probably walk down Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis at 2 AM on a Saturday and feel several times more comfortable than me. But I don't think anyone could seriously consider his ability to blend in in a crummy area of the big city quite a compensation for my ability to drive around the entire state unbothered by folks who think that a young black man driving a nice car is suspicious in itself.

I don't object at all to the observation that certain classes of people are privileged in general, as you've put rather more eloquently than I did; I only object to the idea that any specific member of one of those classes must constantly and automatically be on the receiving end of the free ride, and must be harped at about it, and that arguing over the details and the specifics of the situation is tantamount to being an NROnik. Shudder. Or, as you said:

Going from the generalization (even a true generalization) to the specific is a form of prejudice, and will sometimes get absurd results.

"Your theories intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter."

Dan Layman-Kennedy wrote:

Wow. You know, I know Sim's a misogynist nutcase, and I keep convincing myself that he can't possibly be as bad as that, because, hey, Church & State was pretty damn good after all. And he keeps coming up with new ways to be utterly despicable.

Weirdly, he seems to be friends with a lot of cool people. I always wonder how they manage to put up with him.

Liquor. Distance. Self-deception.

I dunno-- I spent most of my teen years believing that comic book self-publishing was my life's destiny, and Dave Sim was my Hero with a big H. It's very difficult to totally rub out the deep sense of respect and admiration I once had for him-- it still peeks through every now and again, after years and years of his current batshit zany act. I know a few Cerebus fans in my area who feel the same way. It's a bit like watching a friend with a lingering illness, I guess-- you can't do anything about it, but you can't stop clinging to the faint hope that they might come out of it.

I suppose when issue 300 hits the stands we'll find out if he really was serious or not. Let's just say that if there really is anyone on the planet perverse and committed enough to calculatedly offend virtually everyone for eight or nine years (and drive his circulation into the basement) without "breaking character" just to prove some bizarre personal point... Dave Sim would have to be it.

#139 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 05:16 PM:

Dear Makinglightfolks,

There is a deep connection between this topic and the genre of Science Fiction. If I may quote a pair of experts:

Excerpt, below, from:

EROTIC UNIVERSE
Sexuality and Fantastic Literature
EDITED BY DONALD PALUMBO

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE STUDY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, NUMBER 18

GREENWOOD PRESS New York Westport, Connecticut London

Chapter:

Sexes, Genders, and Discrimination
WILLIAM M. JR. SCHUYLER

"No doubt sexual differences are more than skin deep, but do they go deeper than the distribution of subcutaneous fat? To put it another way, do differences between men and women provide any justification for sexism or, for that matter, egalitarianism? This is no idle question. Intelligence among the Kzinti of Larry Niven Ringworld is sex linked. Females are nonsapient; egalitarianism is not for them. Human beings are not Kzinti, but one still must consider whether differences among humans are of a kind and degree that would justify differential treatment of men and women."

"At issue are meanings and possibilities. Since men and women are not the same, in what senses may they be properly said to be equal, and in what ways is it possible to treat them equally? These seemingly abstract questions can have concrete consequences. It might turn out, for example, that there is no sense in which men and women can be said to be equal, that would make it possible to treat them equally socially, economically, or politically."

"Questions of meaning and possibility of this kind lie in the provinces of philosophy, for it is not facts that are at issue but the nature of the issues. Philosophers cannot agree even on what counts as a legitimate way of answering questions, but there is a broad consensus that a hypothetical example that cannot be shown to be self-contradictory establishes possibility. Yet exploring the ramifications of an example has in some cases taken centuries. What philosophers have needed is a stock of examples already worked out in great detail, and some have realized that for many problems, such a stock can be found in science fiction..."

Thank you for appreciating the significance of the underlying matter, regardless of what ignorance or prejudice sparked this interesting discussion.


#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 06:03 PM:

Scott Lynch: actually, that was me. And I wrote that because people are always saying things like "but prison walls are made of stone, and the walls between men and women are not, so HA!" as if they'd proved me wrong.

So, thanks. Even if you did think it was KAM who wrote it!

(Does that mean you'd read my blog if I had one?)

#141 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 06:19 PM:

"A gentleman," one might note, "is never caught doing such things." --One might well amend that to include "A gentleman of whatever gender."

A gentleman, one might also note, of the Eustace Tilley disposition, merely denotes laughter with a slight smile and a quirked eyebrow.

People laugh when there's something so painful its funny, preconceptions of the proper order of things are shattered (comedy of manners), or something completely unexpected is suddenly noticed.

This actually just happened as I was writing this. The phone rang and I answered, hearing my mother's voice, saying, "I'm making a snake here. Try to run over the snake I'm making." This, of course, caught me out of left field, then I chuckled as I realized what had happened: My mother's a ski instructor, and her cell phone must have been bumped to autodial me, allowing me to hear a few lines of what she was saying in the middle of her lesson.

When I talk with her this evening, I'm going to surprise her--and she will likely laugh--as I repeat the lines from my inadvertent five-hundred-mile eavesdropping.

TG/TS people, the moment they fail to pass, cause a moment of the unexpected. Add to that the humor of preconceptions, and the pain of getting something badly wrong....

#142 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 07:17 PM:

Would someone please explain to me why it's important to identify t/g people? Admittedly, some of the t/g I know are easily identifiable, but it seems to me that the polite thing to do is treat people as they want to be treated. Since there are gender differences in how people treat each other, I try to treat people as the gender they prefer. The only risk to an unconvincing t/g that I see is being unable to figure out which pronoun to use.

As for privilege, two words. Privilege isn't freedom. It doesn't give you more choices, or even necessarily better choices. What it does is give you the choices that our society deems most valuable _and_blocks_others_out_. That is to say, it reduces the competition. It's bloody hell on people who don't want to make the choices that society wants them to.

One other thing: most of privilege is actually a _lack_ of things. It's like not having to slog uphill. When a man chooses a profession, he has fewer concerns about whether he'll be welcome in his profession. White men don't worry about not being promoted because of race or sex. (Well, these days they do, but the numbers suggest that these worries are usually bug-a-bears.) White men don't have people whisper, "Nigger," at them on the bus. There are many fewer people who are willing to attack a guy, even a little guy, than they are to attack a girl, even a big girl. (Go figure. I know some _little_ women who could take your average mugger apart.) It's not so much that privilege gives better outcomes as it is that it allows the privileged to have fewer fears, and anticipate fewer obstacles.

I know what kind of responses I'm going to get for that. All I can do is tell you something from personal experience. I'm not black. From where I sit, it doesn't look like race is that much of a problem. I read about things in the newspaper that are clearly horrible, but I don't see it in my everyday life. I asked one of my black friends, once, what it looked like from her side. She said that not a day goes by that she doesn't get some form of "Nigger bitch," said to her. Some days, she gets not-so-subtle physical attacks, such as tripping her when she walks down the aisle on the bus. When she goes shopping, shop girls follow her around suspiciously. I can't see any of that, even when I look. I sure wouldn't deny that I have white privilege, though.

I try to imagine the pressure of being insulted every day, of facing suspicion and aggression constantly, and I don't know how she swallows all that rage. It would make everything in life harder. Even if those things were the _only_ things that she experienced as a form of oppression, it's enough. It makes everything an uphill slog.

#143 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 07:30 PM:

A gentleman, one might also note, of the Eustace Tilley disposition, merely denotes laughter with a slight smile and a quirked eyebrow.

And good golly--that's one way not to get caught, isn't it?

I think we can presume that no one here needs a lesson on why we up-jumped plains apes laugh? --But a word to the wise: watch your disingenuosity. Someone who pretends not to understand the difference between laughing with one's mother over her telephonic non sequitur, and sneering at a quiveringly earnest young man's sartorial sense once he's left the room, will do nothing to repudiate geekdom's overall reputation as lacking in the social skill set.

--He said, his eyebrow quirked just so.

#144 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 08:35 PM:

Regarding privelege: It seems there are no Jim's Big Ego fans among the Making Light readership, since nobody's referenced this yet.

Scott - re. Dave Sim: It's very difficult to totally rub out the deep sense of respect and admiration I once had for him-- it still peeks through every now and again, after years and years of his current batshit zany act. I know a few Cerebus fans in my area who feel the same way. It's a bit like watching a friend with a lingering illness, I guess-- you can't do anything about it, but you can't stop clinging to the faint hope that they might come out of it.

Well put. I have to wonder if, say, Alan Moore feels the same way when he leafs through Cerebus every month, and reads him going off about how he's a pariah in the comics community now because of The Feminists and The Homosexualists and their big PC conspiracy. (It couldn't possibly be because you act like a great big asshole, could it, Dave?) I'm still a bit irked that he got the last word in Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman and used it as a platform to air his usual nastiness rather than the tribute that one might have assumed was more appropriate. But so it goes; one more reason I seem to be missing nothing at all by not hanging out in the "Guys' Guys" section.

#145 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 08:38 PM:

Let's just say that if there really is anyone on the planet perverse and committed enough to calculatedly offend virtually everyone for eight or nine years (and drive his circulation into the basement) without "breaking character" just to prove some bizarre personal point... Dave Sim would have to be it.

Mmm, actually, I92d put my money on Andy Kaufman for that one.

#146 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 11:11 PM:

Would someone please explain to me why it's important to identify t/g people? Admittedly, some of the t/g I know are easily identifiable, but it seems to me that the polite thing to do is treat people as they want to be treated. Since there are gender differences in how people treat each other, I try to treat people as the gender they prefer. The only risk to an unconvincing t/g that I see is being unable to figure out which pronoun to use.

The importance in identifying TG people is the same importance as identifying everything. As a writer, you're not going to be able to give a sense of versimilitude without paying close attention to the world around you, and that includes the people in it. Especially the people in it.

Treating people as they want to be treated is perfectly fine so long as we're talking about addressing someone by one pronoun instead of the other. However, beyond that, you can have people presuming to privileges which they haven't paid the dues for. For example, I've more than once seen a M-F individual demanding to be "treated like a lady," often in the imperative, despite the fact a lady would not say that, at least as I understand the concept.

As I define it, "lady" is either A). a younger woman who I either desire or at least wish to flatter by going out of my way with gallantry (giving up my seat for her, etc), or more strongly B). an older woman, of an age to have grandchildren, who behaves in a gracious manner. A lady is not a fainting lily who wants to be waited on hand and foot because she's too lazy to do things herself.

Actually, this isn't even a TG issue. I have very little patience for fainting lilies of any gender, and I see no reason to cater to them, even if that's what they want.

#147 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 11:11 PM:

Would someone please explain to me why it's important to identify t/g people? Admittedly, some of the t/g I know are easily identifiable, but it seems to me that the polite thing to do is treat people as they want to be treated. Since there are gender differences in how people treat each other, I try to treat people as the gender they prefer. The only risk to an unconvincing t/g that I see is being unable to figure out which pronoun to use.

The importance in identifying TG people is the same importance as identifying everything. As a writer, you're not going to be able to give a sense of versimilitude without paying close attention to the world around you, and that includes the people in it. Especially the people in it.

Treating people as they want to be treated is perfectly fine so long as we're talking about addressing someone by one pronoun instead of the other. However, beyond that, you can have people presuming to privileges which they haven't paid the dues for. For example, I've more than once seen a M-F individual demanding to be "treated like a lady," often in the imperative, despite the fact a lady would not say that, at least as I understand the concept.

As I define it, "lady" is either A). a younger woman who I either desire or at least wish to flatter by going out of my way with gallantry (giving up my seat for her, etc), or more strongly B). an older woman, of an age to have grandchildren, who behaves in a gracious manner. A lady is not a fainting lily who wants to be waited on hand and foot because she's too lazy to do things herself.

Actually, this isn't even a TG issue. I have very little patience for fainting lilies of any gender, and I see no reason to cater to them, even if that's what they want.

#148 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 12:00 AM:

I'm not sure why tg folks are any more "ridiculous" in attempts to "pass" than teenage girls who wear too much eye makeup are in their attempts to "pass" as sophisticated women. And I would consider anyone who laughed in the teenager's face or snickered behind her back boorish, not to mention *way* too easily amused. (I feel about the "humor" of cathing a tg person out about the way I do about the "humor" of a bare butt: the sight by itself is just not particularly amusing, if you don't *do* anything with it. Maybe I am just too used to butts and to the idea of clothes being worn by people instead of genders.)

I dislike adult ladies (of any sex) who consider themselves Grand Arbiters of taste and fashion. *I* didn't vote for them, and I certainly don't intend to be one. I don't see why this should be any more or less applicable depending on the gender of the person wearing the corsets or necktie or caked-on make-up. I'm a pretty femmey female, long hair and sometimes short skirts, but I wear no make-up, and I know some people would consider that to be a social faux pas anywhere but my own home. And they are cordially invited to...well, let's keep it civil; they may take their sneers elsewhere. And I, in turn, will not sneer if someone else's make-up isn't my choice. Nice how that works.

I'm wondering why the fainting lily thing came up in the first place, Kevin, since it sounds like you'd have the same reaction to anyone who demanded to be waited on, regardless of what their bits and pieces looked like, how well they had chosen their coiffure and wardrobe to suit their natural looks, etc.

Sennoma, I don't really share your confidence that subtle inequities will be lessened by dragging them into the light. Being aware of something *doesn't* always mean stopping it. Which is why I got so frustrated with "consciousness-raising activities" in college: great, now we're all conscious that there are homeless people. Which we knew. And we just spent an hour role-playing about them, when we could have been raising funds for their shelter, collecting canned goods for their soup kitchen, or campaigning for mental health care reform. Hurray for consciousness. What I want to know is, what's the mechanism for improvement through consciousness? How do you intend to get from Point A to Point B there? I think a lot of bigots of the past *knew* they were treating people in an unequal fashion; it took more than awareness to get them to cut it out. I doubt that there are very many people on this forum who would say that men and women, people of different ethnic groups, etc. are treated exactly the same in every single instance, or even in sweeping generalities. So I'm hard-pressed to see what consciousness-raising is going to do here.

#149 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 02:26 AM:

I've more than once seen a M-F individual demanding to be "treated like a lady," often in the imperative, despite the fact a lady would not say that, at least as I understand the concept.

If an M->F transsexual in my presence demands to be treated as a lady, what I would hear is a demand to be treated as a human being rather than as a freak.

As I define it, "lady" is either A). a younger woman who I either desire or at least wish to flatter by going out of my way with gallantry (giving up my seat for her, etc), or more strongly B). an older woman, of an age to have grandchildren, who behaves in a gracious manner.

I must confess, I don't think much of this definition, beyond that it is unworthy of a gentleman. A young woman whom you desire or wish to flatter, OR a woman beyond an age you find desirable, as long as she behaves herself? Did I read that correctly?

#150 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 04:56 AM:

Lydia Nickerson wrote Would someone please explain to me why it's important to identify t/g people?

Well, some people believe that gender is fixed and unchangeable, and (high correlation) that gender should affect how they treat people. Under those circumstances, of course it matters. If you take the view that everyone deserves to be treated with equal politeness, then it won't matter except to you internally.

One other thing: most of privilege is actually a _lack_ of things. It's like not having to slog uphill.

Exactly. This is the best comment so far on this thread. To add to your examples, a straight couple tends not to notice that they don't have to worry when renting accommodation in case the landlord figures out that they're a couple and gets hostile: they don't tend to notice that they don't have to worry about holding hands in public: they don't tend to notice that (trivial example) a restaurant doing a couples-only night on Valentine's Day won't ban them from attending because they're not a real couple (which happened to two lesbian friends of mine, a few years ago): and as individuals they don't notice that they don't have to worry about whether or when to come out: they don't share the experience of "When did you tell your parents you were straight". And so on. And some straight people do figure out their privileges in this respect: and many find the idea that they are privileged completely incomprehensible, because they don't see heterosexual privilege: they're inside it.

I think it can help simply dragging it into the light - with people of goodwill, where you can show concrete examples, at least.

For example: recently, I was talking for work-related reasons with a man whose partner is now in long-stay care with Alzheimer's. When he tried to get help from the social work establishment, he discovered (as he'd expected) that the system was set up to work with straight couples, either married or living together as husband and wife, or else with parent-child relationships: there was no provision for a same-sex partner looking after their partner. This he'd expected - that kind of legislative change takes years if not decades, and it's still an ongoing process in the UK. But the entire absence of awareness on the part of the people (mostly social workers) he was dealing with that there were same-sex couples affected by dementia, just as mixed-sex couples are, and even when they were aware that there must be same-sex couples, they were still less aware that the effects would be different because the situation for the same-sex couples is different.

What he's doing, now his partner is gone from him, is providing an information service for social workers: going to talk to them, giving them concrete examples of the kind of thing they have to be aware of. Gay people of that age are mostly used to never coming out except to people they know are gay: social workers need to be aware of that, too. One concrete example he gave was of an elderly gay couple who needed a home help, and felt (when they got one) that they needed to move into separate bedrooms, after having slept together all their lives, because they were afraid she might be homophobic, and they weren't sure, if she was, what recourse they would have or if they could get a different home help. That had nothing to do with dementia: they contacted him because they felt they had no one else to ask if there was any way out of separating now they no longer had the domestic privacy they'd been used. That's the kind of fear which absence denotes heterosexual privilege.

#151 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 09:14 AM:

"Would someone please explain to me why it's important to identify t/g people?"

Well, generally, it's not.

Here's an exception: When a male-to-female transsexual is trying to lay claim to specific kinds of slack extended to people who were raised female, and publicly claiming special insight into the female experience, while leading a drive for the exclusion of sympathetic men.

Not that this would ever actually happen, of course.

#152 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 10:24 AM:

Dunno wether to be embarassed/amused or seriously worried by Kim du Toit . Over here in sunny Wales we callit the Rugby Club view of life. I can get it belshed into my face by walking 100 yard from my door I don''t need to read it on the web

#153 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 11:38 AM:

...publicly claiming special insight into the female experience, while leading a drive for the exclusion of sympathetic men.

Wow, Patrick, you're much more tolerant than I am. I get annoyed at drives for the exclusion of sympathetic men regardless of what bits the driver's got.

#154 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 11:58 AM:

Mris, I didn't say confident, I said hopeful. I actually wrote "confident" initially, but realised it was inaccurate. Still and all, I do think that there is less overt racism now than ever (again, I am talking about modern Western society). Racist jokes are not acceptable in public, or in many (most? I hope so) social circles, and there are laws against things like discrimination in employment. I think that part of the process that has brought about these improvements is what you call consciousness-raising; society can much more easily solve a problem if it is widely recognised as a problem than if it passes under most people's radar. Mechanisms? I guess that depends in part on one's view of human nature, and how willing people are to change their behaviour once it's pointed out to them that they are, however unconsciously, doing something unfair. There will probably always be unapologetic bigots, but they can do far less harm if they are surrounded by people who disapprove of bigotry. In terms of larger changes, I would like to think that the higher the general level of awareness, the greater chance progressive laws and political platforms have of succeeding.

Your anecdote was about homelessness, but I would like to hear the rest of the story -- what did you do once you decided that the role-playing had not helped anyone? I have a homelessness example too: I will be volunteering for the "freeze patrol" (that's where the blankets-and-coffee folks need strong backs they can call on at short notice when the weather gets really bad) here in Portland OR this winter, because one of my coworkers is involved with it and we got to talking about local poverty and homelessness. Also, I am going to start giving panhandlers meal coupons with my usual buck or so, and I only know that coupons are available here because Central City Concern and some local businesses did some consciousness-raising.

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 12:52 PM:

Mris, I read Patrick as saying that in such a circumstance identifying the person as TG would be relevant and appropriate. He didn't say it'd be OK for a woman to exclude sympathetic men.

I personally can see why women need all-women space from time to time, even if they don't "hate men" (a common accusation against radicalesbians at the time). But what we're talking about is hypocrisy. Having your bits flipped doesn't change a man into a woman, or vice versa; it changes both men and women into transexuals.

If an MtF transexual starts a sentence with "When I was a little girl..." she's lying and should be called on it (well, depending on the circumstances). And the experience of growing up female makes a difference even if the surgery etc. were a Varleyesque "Change" rather than the comparitively primitive thing it actually is.

#156 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 12:52 PM:

What I find interesting about the tranny-spotting discussion is that it is entirely focused on accuracy meaning that few or no actual TGs are unnoticed by certain people.

Being good at this skill goes both ways: Not only should there be few false negatives (few failures to positively ID), but there should be few false positives as well. People shouldn't be sniggering at someone's bad toupee when their hair really does grow like that.

(People probably oughtn't be sniggering in the first place; which is why some of the people in this thread are getting up my nose.)

#157 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 12:59 PM:

I get annoyed at drives for the exclusion of sympathetic men regardless of what bits the driver's got.

Depends where they're being excluded from, surely?

Women's toilets? I support men's exclusion from women's toilets, regardless of how sympathetic they are. (While being prepared to make exceptions for emergency cases, in which case it doesn't really matter how unsympathetic the man is.)

Women's space/women's caucuses? I support men's exclusion from space purposely created to discuss women's issues from women's viewpoints, providing there's equal and opposite space/time granted to men. And vice versa. (Almost invariably it's more vice versa...)

Women-only social groups? I don't fundamentally see anything wrong with a bunch of women all getting together to have a good time without men, or vice versa: and while equally it can be a good time when a mixed group gets together to have a good time, I note that the social structures of a women-only group and a mixed-group are distinctively different, and I see no reason not to acknowledge this and consciously enjoy both.

Nor would I consider any male especially sympathetic if he wanted access to women-only space just because he was excluded.

I have no sympathy towards anyone who claims a special insight into "the female experience", regardless of whether they were born female or born male.

I have no idea what Patrick is talking about when he references "specific kinds of slack extended to people who were raised female".

#158 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 01:04 PM:

Comparatively. Eesh, what a bad day I'm having.

While I'm at it: I meant that she should be called on it depending on the circumstances. She's lying regardless.

#159 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 02:27 PM:

Teresa, I used to be a math major, and that forensic anthropology site set my spider-sense tingling. Each of the formulas is preceded by a phrase like "Study set: 73 females and 118 males of the Tennessee Data Bank". But it doesn't say whether the study set was used to derive the formula or to test the formula's accuracy, which leads me to believe that it was probably used for both, which is a major no-no.

Here's why. Suppose you have a hundred adult skeletons, and you randomly spray-paint half of them purple and half of them orange. I can take two measurements of the radius, and for each, simply by chance the average of the purple skeletons will either be slightly above or slightly below the average of the orange skeletons. I can use that to come up with a formula that will distinguish between purple and orange skeletons with better than fifty percent accuracy. But it doesn't represent anything real.

Now, you won't get 90% accuracy with this formula, not with just a couple of variables to play with. But that 90% accuracy doesn't mean the formulas really are that good, because you get a similar problem when there is a correlation. Male skeletons tend to be bigger than female skeletons, so you could just guess that big bones are from men and small bones are from women and get better than 50% accuracy. If you have two exact measurements for all of the bones, then you can come up with a formula that might give you 90% accuracy for that same set of bones--but you don't know if it'll be any good for a different set of bones. You may just be really good at distinguishing between purple and orange, instead of male and female. Maybe with a different set of bones you'd get 70% accuracy. You don't know.

The legitimate way to come up with a formula is to have two sets of skeletons. You use one to derive a formula, and you use the second to test it. There's no indication that they did that.

Another thing that bothers me is that their formulas go out to six significant digits, while they only had a hundred or so worth of skeletons to derive their formula from. Claiming more precision than your data can provide is a warning sign that the researchers may not fully understand the tools that they're using.

I haven't checked the chapter's references, so it may be the summary rather than the primary sources that is problematic. But until I checked the work myself, or got the word from someone whose statistical competence I accepted that the figures were good, I would not believe those accuracy numbers.

#160 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 02:36 PM:

If an M->F transsexual in my presence demands to be treated as a lady, what I would hear is a demand to be treated as a human being rather than as a freak.

If she wants to be treated as a human being, that's what she should ask for. Usually, though, she's complaining about being treated as an able-bodied man rather than getting the special female-only slack Patrick mentioned.

I must confess, I don't think much of this definition, beyond that it is unworthy of a gentleman. A young woman whom you desire or wish to flatter, OR a woman beyond an age you find desirable, as long as she behaves herself? Did I read that correctly?

You're spinning it. A lady, as I define the term, gets the respect due a grandmother, for having done things like caring for sick children. You extend the courtesy to women of the same age who may or may not be grandmothers, since they've probably done a lot of stuff for kids anyway, and likewise with younger women who may some day be grandmothers, this last as an old formal bit of the courting dance, at least on the man's end.

If a woman's being decidedly unnurturing, my thought is "Not my grandmother, and not anyone I want to date either" and the special slack of being treated as a "lady" goes out the window.

#161 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 02:50 PM:

Kevin, I think I've pegged the chief reason your initial commentary about transsexuals offended.

In later portions of the conversation, you indicated you have a higher than usual ability to distinguish original gender.

In the initial portion, you did not. You extended your own capabilities to all people in the room ("people are being too polite/embarrassed to say anything") which presumes to speak not only for what and whether they notices, but also how they felt about it.

This was exacerbated by laying the same vast generalizations about M-t-F transsexuals as examples, instead of more subtle examples supplied later by various members of the conversation - the shape of elbows, the distribution of fat or musculature.

Therefore you not only painted a cultural group with a rather broad brush guaranteed to offend people, but you also presumed to speak for what others thought of what they saw.

Why is identification important? In matters of Sexual attraction, it may be to people who are not naturally bisexual. In political matters pertaining to gender or sexuality, it may in fact be considered relevant. In misrepresenting of one's own history - well, the evidence proving that misrepresentation is always relevant, be it gender or otherwise.

#162 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 02:52 PM:

What I find interesting about the tranny-spotting discussion is that it is entirely focused on accuracy meaning that few or no actual TGs are unnoticed by certain people.

Being good at this skill goes both ways: Not only should there be few false negatives (few failures to positively ID), but there should be few false positives as well. People shouldn't be sniggering at someone's bad toupee when their hair really does grow like that.

I don't think false negatives or false positives are that common because before the YES/NO, you get Query? Is that a transexual or is that Bea Arthur? Observe.

#163 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 03:09 PM:

Yonmei, I have no problem with any of that stuff either, and none of it really describes the ancient history I was referring to.

Lydy asked why it's ever important to "identify t/g people." I said (please note) that generally it's not. I went on to describe, in very general terms, a situation in which it might actually be necessary.

I have no problem with the idea of (for instance) woman-only spaces.

I do have a problem, and this is a different part of the discussion, with the idea that our chosen gender roles need to be any more immune to the normal range of reactions by our fellow humans than anything else about us. Obviously we should avoid going out of our way to be cruel. Just as obviously, it falls into all of our lives to provoke a certain amount of incredulity, amazement, or involuntary mirth from others.

#164 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 03:18 PM:

Lenora,

Actually, the person who cited the elbow-angle and the fat deposition patterns was also me.

But point taken about me extending my own observations to everyone else, though I think this is a natural human foible. A woman I dated in grad school had perfect pitch, and whenever she heard a false note, winced, and likewise with hearing a record being played a fraction off the proper RPM, and was incredulous that it had escaped my notice. I was able to note what she was observing when she carefully pointed it out.

I find myself wincing the same way when I spot something off. Though there are often examples so glaringly off that I'm sure everyone can spot them, and since other have, I don't think I'm wrong in this.

Why does it matter to sing on key?

#165 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 03:19 PM:

special female-only slack

What is this?

#166 ::: Jenn Hermey ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 03:44 PM:

Not to keep beating an almost dead horse but...

Sennoma just a few clarifications for you on your male white perks.

The ones you listed that can be perks:
-not being on the receiving end of the racial inequities in the criminal justice system

-seeing one's own race widely represented in the media (even though this one is becoming less and less as time goes by, at least in America)

-seeing one's own race given a central role in the accepted versions of history -- local, national and global (Of course, the winner's always write history and sadly enough the white race has been rather prolific and deadly)

-in adverse circumstances (pulled over by the police, having a bad week at work, whatever it might be), not having to wonder about whether race is a factor

Even the ones I just listed have other factors you need to list in. You're not looking at the whole, you're looking at what you want to see without much experience outside of that narrow box to talk about.

Have you ever attempted as a white male to walk into a Native American reservation where the police and government is run completely by that race? It's rather interesting, even nowadays. Luckily for me (I'm a mutt female) I can pass as one of them since I have their bloodlines, not so lucky for say my grandmother or for someone so obviously a white male as Scott.

The other few White Male Perks you listed:

- being able, within financial limits, to choose where one will live and not worry about how the neighbours will react when one moves in

Bull. Have you ever attempted to live in a part of town that's all Hmong, chicano, native american, or asian american? They tend to look at you very askance. They don't trust you, they push you out, and since their subcultures of the U.S. are so different usually they'll take you for all you're worth. So no, I can't just move in where ever I want and worry about how the neighbors will react and neither can a male. Please take off your blinders.

- not feeling personally attacked when the nation elects supporters of the Confederacy to high office (Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, John Ashcroft, Dick Armey)

This is also a crock. The confederacy is dead. It's been dead since the Civil War ended. Some people want it back because they're idiots, but it doesn't mean that you should feel personally attacked. Besides the fact that you're focusing on one other race besides white. Why would Asian american's be upset about that? I think they'd be a bit more upset about someone that supported the internment camps used for the Japanese Americans during WWII wouldn't you? Native Americans should be more upset about other races in general and those who may still believe in Manifest Destiny because that's what stuck them on happy little reservations and, until the casinos came into being, left them with shacks to live in and crap for food and medical care.

- never being asked to speak for, or assumed to represent, one's whole race

Obviously you feel the "privileges" of being a white male more than others do. Being a "white" female I still get accused for my "race's" history. I still have to explain myself to others.

Bigotry cycles with more bigotry. You say that you're just agknowledging the fact that you have privileges. These things you state are not privileges, they're not even perks. Racism goes both ways whether people think so or not. Privilege comes from being born where you are, when you are. I'm privileged because I came from a family that taught me hard work was worth rewards. I don't have a stinkin' silver spoon in my mouth. My best friend, Jason, (afformentioned by Scott Lynch) who's blacker than black can be black works his butt off just as hard as I do.

He gets discriminated against because his skin is black. I get discriminated against because I have breasts and my skin is white and doesn't show my true heritage.

You tell me where the privilege lies. If my skin was noticably a different color I wouldn't be struggling my way through college. I'd get different benefits, have things to fall back on that aren't there. But because my skin is as pale as a ghost in the winter (even though it's nice and dark in the summer) I don't get squat.

And there is definately a difference between agknowledging that you have benefits and doing something about them. I can agknowledge that I get benefits from being seen as a white female. However Scott's a white male and he still has people harassing him because he has long hair and wears black most of the time. In some neighborhoods he can't walk around after dark because he "looks suspicious with that long hair and black clothing".

Is that a privilege?

Nah.

You're fighting a battle that doesn't necessarily need to be fought. The battle that needs to be fought is the one that makes people like Jason get stuck in jail for no reason just because he was passing through. The battle that needs to be fought isn't that we're all different and therefore should get different privileges, that battle is old and obviously doesn't work. It smacks of pre-Civil rights era.

The battle that needs to be fought is that we're all different and therefore we should be treated with respect due to us.

And now since I've babbled endlessly and this is the first time ever that I've posted. Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Jenn, I'm Scott's significant other and I like this place. I'm a Field Biology/Pre-veterinary student who graduates in May. I hope you all have a very good day now. :)

Jenn

#167 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 05:05 PM:

- not feeling personally attacked when the nation elects supporters of the Confederacy to high office (Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, John Ashcroft, Dick Armey)

Jenn, I *do* feel a bit unsettled when that happens, and I'm an American of Asian ancestry. There was plenty of anti-Japanese or anti-Chinese stuff going on outside the South, by people who had pro-Confederate leanings at the time.

#168 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 06:08 PM:

"Actually, the person who cited the elbow-angle and the fat deposition patterns was also me."

Yes, it was; an additional part of your clarification of your intent. But I recalled other, equally subtle, examples were cited by other members. A quick skim didn't turn them up, therefore I used language that allowed for their contributions *in addition* to yours. Note my commentary is regarding your original post; later on, I felt you made yourself and your actual position much clearer, and was satisfied.

"But point taken about me extending my own observations to everyone else, though I think this is a natural human foible."

Yes, it is, alas. We all do it; my point was merely that it might ahve been a subconscious part of what was irking people, and it had not been addressed yet, not that this was a trait exclusive to you. It's partly liable to get passed over simply because it's so often done.

"Why does it matter to sing on key?"

That depends who you're singing for. If singing to please yourself, you need only be as close to on key as pleases you. If singing in a social group, you need to be as on-key as your most picky friends will tolerate, and they may be anything from very picky to very tolerant. If attempting, however, to go public and sing before strangers, you need to be as close to on key as you can ever achieve - and you need to be thick skinned about the moments you go flat, and willing to accept well-meant advice - and to resign yourself to the fact that if you miss a note or look ridiculous, someone, somewhere, will snicker. Doesn't make the snicker any nicer or better - just means this is the real world, where it's not always possible to be both nice and honest about your reactions, and not everyone feels being polite is their highest priority at a given moment.

#169 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 06:14 PM:

I try to keep a level head about the historical situation in which I find myself, and in my opinion the level of privilege I enjoy by virtue of having been born in North America in 1978 outweighs, by several orders of magnitude, the level of privilege I enjoy by virtue of being Irish-German. The latter hasn't saved me from poverty, menial jobs, rustbucket automobiles, houses collapsing around my ears, attempted muggings, or getting screwed over by Wells-Fargo, long may they roll a boulder up a hill in Corporate Hell.


I was born in North America in 1970, and I've encountered discrimination both for my non-white ancestry and my non-male gender. Just datapointing.


Meanwhile, Kevin, why are you treating "ablebodied men" differently than women? Is this the origin of needing to identify gender? I find it saves a great deal of wear and tear to simply treat people with courtesy no matter their gender, even while I'm occasionally IDing someone "passing" as the other gender. Why does it matter whether someone was born into a different set of sexual bits than the ones they present now? If you're not trying to interact with their bits, do they really concern you?

#170 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 06:25 PM:

> special female-only slack


What is this?

It's one-half of a pair of slacks cut to fit females.

#171 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 06:34 PM:

> special female-only slack


What is this?

Here and I thought it was plain front side zip - not commonly observed these days.

#172 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 07:01 PM:

I'm pretty sure there is at least one Asian American female who doesn't feel threatened when the nation elects supporters of the Confederacy to high office for values of Phil Gramm at least.

Then too there's a Manhatten born mildly observant Jew - Jewish by Jewish law - around here who gets a lot of speeding on former Indian land (there's a lot of that around here) tickets handled in Tribal Court with no State points because he's also 100% Native American - his birth parents died in a mutual disaster and he was legally and formally adopted by family friends into their own family and tribe.

I'm not sure what if anything follows from some of these but remember today is Kim du Toit's birthday and also National Buy Ammunition Day.

#173 ::: Jenn Hermey ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 07:56 PM:

Jenn, I *do* feel a bit unsettled when that happens, and I'm an American of Asian ancestry. There was plenty of anti-Japanese or anti-Chinese stuff going on outside the South, by people who had pro-Confederate leanings at the time.


Completely understandable. Being unsettled is different, however, from feeling "personally attacked". I'm unsettled by it as well, even though I was (and probably because I was) raised by a father who adamantly believed in the freedom of the South and a mother who's so much a Yank that it's not even funny. However, I don't feel personally attacked. I don't feel as though these people are singling me out and doing me harm. I do feel that these people have some serious issues. (Did I mention that my father has serious issues? :P)

And while we all agree that slavery is a Bad Thing (tm) the oppression of the Asian american's at that time wasn't mainly in the Bible Belt south as it's called today. And it wasn't just the confederacy that caused oppression, segregation, and all that other fun happy stuff that brings this whole conversation up anyway. The Confederacy and the Union basically fell apart because of states rights' vs. federal rights. (yes, I know my punctuation, grammer, and what not is horrible and I apologize profusely) Abolitionists threw a hissy fit and it was the fact that slavery existed that was used by Lincoln to go to war with the southern states that had seceded from the United States in order to bring them back.

All the other fun stuff that should scare people happened all over the country and all over the world. Slaves were sold by rival tribes in Africa to the slavers, shipped to America, sold, and sold, and resold. Chinese shipped themselves to California only to become slaves to workers there and a "second class". Mexicans and hispanics are currently being shoved into cargo trucks like sardines without food, water, or a place to go to the bathroom and run over the border for thousands of dollars that they don't have in exchange for work that they'll never be able to pay off. And they die by the hundreds.

Back in civil war America people were still "treated different" even in the abolistionist states. That's why there was a Civil Rights era so that there was no longer any segregation.

And to me that's why it's unsettling to know that my best friend gets put into jail for a few hours and is never told why. When he gets pulled over on an average of 14 times a year for cockamamy reasons that normally the cops would just say "Oh, get it fixed" but they pull him out of his car and do a complete search or he's told that "Isn't he in the wrong part of town, son?". And this is in Minnesota.

It's unsettling to know that people are that judgemental. And it's upsetting that someone close to me has to go through with it.

*trips off her high horse and falls face down in the mud*

Dang it, happens every time.

Trinker, I just wanted to let you know that I agree with you about the unsettling bit. I just don't find Sennoma's agruement to be a very sound one as far as white male privilege goes. Mainly based on my own experiences and what I know of history. :D

Happy day!

Jenn

#174 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 08:04 PM:

Meanwhile, Kevin, why are you treating "ablebodied men" differently than women? Is this the origin of needing to identify gender? I find it saves a great deal of wear and tear to simply treat people with courtesy no matter their gender, even while I'm occasionally IDing someone "passing" as the other gender. Why does it matter whether someone was born into a different set of sexual bits than the ones they present now? If you're not trying to interact with their bits, do they really concern you?

I'm not talking the regular everyday courtesy of holding the door open for the person behind you, or helping a person carrying packages and/or dealing with small children. We've progressed to a point where general courtesy to everyone saves a lot of time and bother.

Need to identify gender? I'm identifying gender anyway, as a fact of paying attention. I need to know everything: new words, new sights, new sounds. Seeing someone TG/TS in some state of not passing attracts my curiousity: What's up with that person?

But back to the question "ablebodied men." I have very little tolerance for helplessness, but I especially despise feigned helplessness. It's one thing for a woman to not know how to fix a broken sprinkler pipe because her father never showed her how, and likewise with a man not knowing how to cook because his mother chased him out of the kitchen, but it's another for an individual who knows how to do such things to not do them because the tasks do not fit his/her new persona. A woman who refuses to do/learn "man's work" is a prissy missy (not an attractive trait) and a man who refuses to do/learn "women's work" is pretty damn insecure in his sexuality. Rather like Mr. du Toit, or a number of FtM transexuals.

#175 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 11:30 PM:

"It's one-half of a pair of slacks cut to fit females."

More usually called a woman's trew.

#176 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 08:17 AM:

From the quoted bits and discussion of Mr. du Toit's essay, it would seem that he is the type of guy that wears a tin foil condom.

(Except, of course, that we all know that Real Men Don't Use Condoms.)

I wonder how old du Toit is? Whie I was never blatantly and deliberately sexist back in my early years, with the advantage of middle-aged hindsight I can see there were instances as a young supposedly-adult male when I said or wrote utterly bone-headed things about women. (And God, I hope nobody ever digs up some of those old fanzines. I am cringing at the keyboard as I type, just remembering.)

One can hope that in ten or twenty years, du Toit will re-read his essay and turn deep red with embarassment.

#177 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 09:07 AM:

If I had the time and interest, I know what I'd write:

The Putzification of the American Male

#178 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 01:55 PM:

Being unsettled is different, however, from feeling "personally attacked".

Maybe it is for you. For me, it's not quite so clearcut. Even in legistlation that's actualy aimed at "the category of people I fit into", I don't usually find myself reacting to it as a *personal* attack. An attack that affects me personally, yes.

Cases of various constituencies voting in reactionary rightwingers who're in bed with the racists and the religious right? Yeah. It makes me take note of that region, and put it on the "I don't think it would be safe for me to travel there" list. It's in the same bin for me as "awareness of areas likely to pull over for DWB".

#179 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 02:00 PM:

But back to the question "ablebodied men." I have very little tolerance for helplessness, but I especially despise feigned helplessness. It's one thing for a woman to not know how to fix a broken sprinkler pipe because her father never showed her how, and likewise with a man not knowing how to cook because his mother chased him out of the kitchen, but it's another for an individual who knows how to do such things to not do them because the tasks do not fit his/her new persona. A woman who refuses to do/learn "man's work" is a prissy missy (not an attractive trait) and a man who refuses to do/learn "women's work" is pretty damn insecure in his sexuality.

Why single out transsexuals? Is it because you have a perception that they were once "really men, or women", and that they *did* learn that task, and now are feigning ignorance? You don't remember that kid who was bullied for not doing "gender appropriate tasks" ? Maybe that FTM or MTF never did learn the other set.

Why not just be cranky at people who *stay* in their gender-defined task boxes? I'm not my gender, I'm a person who has a certain chromosonal makeup and certain external sexual characteristics. Others may choose to self-identify strongly with a gender, but why do you excuse GGs (and whatever the male equivalent is called) but not MTFs and FTMs?

Is this a case of "Kevin can identify their birth sex, so therefore they should not be allowed to forget it" ?

#180 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 02:16 PM:

If she wants to be treated as a human being, that's what she should ask for.

Should people have to ask to be treated as human beings? If they object to however it is they are treated, and they identify this as "not being treated as a lady," does that mean you can continue to treat them however you're treating them as long as you define "lady" to exclude them?

Usually, though, she's complaining about being treated as an able-bodied man rather than getting the special female-only slack Patrick mentioned.

How do you determine if what you think of as "special female-only slack" is in fact what an M->F transsexual is requesting when she demands "to be treated as a lady"? Could it be possible that she only wants you to cease speaking of her and to her as if she were a funny-looking he?

A lady, as I define the term, gets the respect due a grandmother, for having done things like caring for sick children. You extend the courtesy to women of the same age who may or may not be grandmothers, since they've probably done a lot of stuff for kids anyway, and likewise with younger women who may some day be grandmothers, this last as an old formal bit of the courting dance, at least on the man's end.

If a woman's being decidedly unnurturing, my thought is "Not my grandmother, and not anyone I want to date either" and the special slack of being treated as a "lady" goes out the window.

So, a lady is a woman who has cared for two generations of children, OR who might have if there'd been any, OR who might care for other people's children in the future AND is someone whom you find attractive?

You're spinning it.

No, sir. I am not. Those are the conditions you enumerated and then restated; they may not after all reflect your position, but I am not twisting them. I am finding it difficult to believe that your definition of "lady" is truly so limited, and it appears to be crafted so as to exclude a number of women, both born and made, based on your own personal social preferences. If you define "lady" in this way, and an M->F transsexual requests you treat her as a lady, you and she are talking about very different things. You are bound to misunderstand each other.

A woman who refuses to do/learn "man's work" is a prissy missy (not an attractive trait) and a man who refuses to do/learn "women's work" is pretty damn insecure in his sexuality. Rather like Mr. du Toit, or a number of FtM transexuals.

I was following you right up to that last comma. "A number of FtM transexuals" refuse to do or learn "women's work"? It's been my experience that transsexuals are among the least likely to define work in terms of men's or women's.

#181 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 04:39 PM:

Trinker,

GGs? Does that stand for "girly girls"? If it does, the male equivalent is "macho men." (And I note you bobbed the end of my line about FtMs being insecure in their own sexuality and added your own period. Please don't bob and repunctuate my comments to change the meaning.)

The people raised to be girly girls and macho men aren't feigning incompetence in non-gender role tasks, they're actually incompetent. But so long as they're willing to do something to remedy the situation, I have no problem with it.

The kid who was bullied for doing gender inappropriate tasks? I was that kid, but I had enough backbone to laugh at the bullies and keep doing what I was doing.

I suppose part of the trouble is that I've always found the whole gender role game to be complete bullshit anyway. But if someone's going to buy into it, they better be prepared to play by the rules, even the ugly parts, and not cry "foul" because someone found them out. I can't speak for women, but men? Men play dominance games. Who's taller, who's stronger, who has more chest hair, who has a bigger dick. It's not just strutting around in plaid shirts and blue jeans. Hell, lesbians can do that. And while we may respect them for matching us drink for drink and other tasks that let us consider them "one of the guys" (analogous to a guy being considered an "honorary woman"), it's not the same thing as full membership. Full membership includes ugly things like men who are smaller than you picking fights so they can gain status.

Having a FtM attempt dominance postures on me raises my hackles, and my basic attitude is Excuse me, I don't play that game, but if we're going to have to, then whip it out and let's see what you've got, son.

I think sexuality is a matter of self discovery, not self invention, and from what I've seen, most transexual folk are obsessed with grass-is-greener frippery, not the cold and ugly facts of growing up as a particular sex.

#182 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 04:54 PM:

Pericat,

For purposes of discussion, how do you define "lady" as opposed to "woman," and how do you define the "special female-only slack" men are expected to give to each?

#183 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 05:02 PM:

Kevin, I didn't repunctuate, I quoted all but the last sentence. "GG" in the trans community generally means "genetic girl". I didn't choose the word, I'm just using it as it's used there. Your ignorance about the term tells me a lot about your familiarity with transfolk.

I'm *still* not clear on why you're SO concerned about someone trans who is going to the extreme with their gender presentation. How do *YOU* know that they are _feigning_ their ignorance, rather than being truly ignorant? Isn't this somewhere along the continuum where SNAG gets upset at a black man for being "an oreo", and not knowing about {$thing which SNAG feels that "African American Man" ought to know as member of $group} ?

Why are you pissed off about the FTM who is inhabiting the role to the point of taking on the trappings and doing the posturing and status seeking? Why are you *more* pissed off when it's being done by an FTM?

See, the thing is, when it comes to "helpless female behavior", I'm just as hard on GGs as on MTFs. I'm annoyed by it on a *human* level, and I don't see the purpose of singling out someone whether they were born into the gender or not.

#184 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 05:47 PM:

Worth remembering that there was once a part of Texas where an American of Japanese background would get a pass on actual committed traffic offenses paying a debt owed by lots of Texas LEO's (and others) to some folks who went for broke and pulled much of a federalized division from the Texas Guard out of a pocket in Italy.

Didn't help Viola Liuzzo in her travels (not in Texas) to be of European descent though.

Takes all kinds.

#185 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 06:13 PM:

Kevin,

So far as I am concerned, a lady is any person, male or female, who self-identifies as such.

As for "special female-only slack," I don't know what that is. I've never heard of it outside this comment thread.

#186 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 06:52 PM:

Ah...the "honorary Texans" from the rescue of the Lost Battalion. Yep.

#187 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 11:20 PM:

clark, I'm a friggin' Delany fan, and I couldn't parse that first paragraph. Perhaps because I don't know the story. And because to me LEO stands for Low Earth Orbit.

Please elucidate for the benefit of this hapless northerner.

#188 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 11:31 PM:

LEO = Law Enforcement Officer

#189 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2003, 11:50 PM:

Pericat,

Ah, I see. You're putting the accent on "self identity," I'm putting it on "perception of others."

Pat Calafia has done some writing on gender being dependent on the perception of others as well as the perception of self.

Trinker,

I'll admit I never heard the term GG before today. I'd be willing to wager that most GGs haven't either, nor do they think of themselves as such. I believe they think of themselves as women--period, full stop, end-of-sentence.

With "inhabiting the role," I don't like to think of "me" as a role to be inhabited, unless it's Halloween or Mardis Gras or some similar holiday--in which case, I get to be someone else too, and even if I get the portrayal badly wrong, it's all in good fun. But aside from that? It's offensive to real cowboys to see goat-ropers dress in their outfits and pretend they work on a ranch, and it's offensive to military men and women to see W dressing up in his flight suit and posing for pictures on the deck of a real warship while real soldiers are dying--no matter how personally fulfilling W finds the role.

As for the posturing and status seeking, the two biggest insults for a man are that he has a tiny dick and no balls, only perhaps topped by allegations that he is in fact a woman/girl in drag. If a FtM gets in my face, can I make these?

I suppose I'm more annoyed at the FtM because their status games are dirty pool. Straight up, I'm a tall guy, and have very unfond memories of junior high, where guys jockeying for status would try to beat up someone taller than them. The tall bookish guy was of course an easy mark, except that I usually broke the rules of the game and demanded that the guy calling me out explain precisely why he wanted to fight me, right there in front of everyone, which of course made them back off because "I'm short and insecure and want to beat up the tall geeky guy to gain status" wouldn't go over well.

The FtM posturing reminds me of these insecure junior high types, swaggering, with the blackmail of me being thought a horrible mean man and a bigot if I out them.

#190 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:55 AM:

Folks really should know the story of Go For Broke (and not coincidentally Trinker makes some effort to observe anniversaries and such)- there is ample detail to puzzle it out already posted - if no other reference comes to hand look for the phrase Go for Broke early in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, then taking the alternate history and unit designation as true in this time line as well it should make perfect sense that driving while Japanese American conferred privilege not difficulty in Texas - rather famously for 15 minute values of fame written up in Reader's Digest.

Also for the google impaired Wendy (Phil's wife) Gramm's grandfather was a cane cutter in Hawaii though from the Korean peninsula rather than Japan.

#191 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:13 AM:

Just for a data point, the GG acronym was transparent to me....

Maybe not the first time, but definitely several years ago.

Cheers,
Tom Whitmore
late and tired

#192 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 05:22 AM:

Kevin:
I just caught up on the rest of this thread after a two-day break from it. It had sounded to me like you thought that a person's being transexual was some sort of shameful secret they wanted you to keep for them, like someone having had a bad marriage in their past, and I was planning to ask if that was how you saw it.

Then I read this:

The FtM posturing reminds me of these insecure junior high types, swaggering, with the blackmail of me being thought a horrible mean man and a bigot if I out them.

And now I'd just like to know what set of FTMs you're talking about, how many of that sort of FTM you've known, and, by the way, what does give you the right to dictate to FTMs how men behave.

Because I have three very dear friends who are trans, [and I hate using them as a bludgeon like this, but I'm actually really angry on their behalf] and they're perfect gentlemen, not swaggering or insecure at all, and even if they were it wouldn't make me question their right to be men. Why should it? It's not like there's a limited number of number of people who can belong to each gender at any one time.

Oh, and in conclusion, this is one example of what privilege is: being reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

#193 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:22 AM:

Vassilissa, having already been told off by Theresa for my comments to and about Kevin Andrew Murphy, I'm refraining from getting into further discussion with him on this topic: he just makes me too angry and too upset to stay reasonable. But thanks:

Oh, and in conclusion, this is one example of what privilege is: being reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

Yes! Nice one.

I first encountered this head-on when, about twenty years ago, there was a massive feminist Incident in Edinburgh concerning women-only discos, organised by a group of lesbian-feminists, which were the big dyke social event of the month. A m-to-f transsexual was strongly disliked by many of the group organising these events, and they decided to ban her from attending by banning all m-to-f transsexuals. Followed a several month-long stramash with many letters to the Edinburgh Women's Liberation Newsletter, articles and letters in Gay Scotland, and lengthy discussions in pubs and at meetings. It was all terribly fraught: the biggest fight of its kind that the small dyke community in Edinburgh has ever had. End result: the group stopped organising the discos for a few months, and when they started doing them again, the idea of banning transwomen was quietly lost.

But it really made me face up to the issue: that practically speaking, it makes no sense to do anything other than accept people as how they identify themselves. Kevin may believe he's good at identifying transwomen: his comments about what transwomen are like suggest that he's really not.

#194 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 01:03 PM:

I suppose I'm more annoyed at the FtM because their status games are dirty pool.

All FTMs, or just the ones that are embodying the worst of male caricatures?

It sounds to me like your crankiness with transsexuals has more to do with your own unresolved issues than anything to do with *them*.

Tell me, why do you have to fight back to the male posturing with some sort of stereotypical response? Why not respond to them with the same question you'd asked the twerps who were harrassign you way back when?

Frankly, after seeing the attitude you've displayed here, I would be inclined to bet that an FTM giving you guff was after your pissy attitude toward transsexuals in general, and not just engaging in macho posturing.

#195 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 02:20 PM:

I just caught up on the rest of this thread after a two-day break from it. It had sounded to me like you thought that a person's being transexual was some sort of shameful secret they wanted you to keep for them, like someone having had a bad marriage in their past, and I was planning to ask if that was how you saw it.

Actually, yes. I've had exactly this experience:

Some years back, at a friend's birthday party, I ran into an old acquaintance from college. He, in the interim, had become a she, and was proudly telling any and all about the sex change and her new name. Mentally filed this information away.

Five years later, ran into her at a wedding. Remembered the face, but blanked on the new name, so mentioned that we'd last seen each other at the birthday party five years before. She said, "Are you sure? I was a bit different back then..." I said, "Oh no, it was after your sex change." She abruptly got pissed: "Oh, really subtle!" Me: "What? You were telling everyone at the party." She: "Very few people know now. Very few people can tell..." Me: [biting my tongue to keep from speculating on how many people would know right off the bat] "If you'd wanted it to be a secret, you should have sent out an announcement."

We managed to smooth over the awkwardness for the sake of our friend's wedding, but asked some mutual friends a few weeks later whether it was in fact the case that "very few people" knew or could tell. They laughed: "That's her little bit. We let her think that, but no, everyone knows."

Met another FtM at a party a year or so after, who was proudly telling everyone about her operation. I talked with her for a fairly long while, mentioning the person who'd been upset about me not keeping her secret, and this woman mentioned that there were some transsexuals who did this, and it was somewhat a recognized phase. She also mentioned some interesting things about social politics in the trans community, including the schiziophrenic behavior of people saying that it didn't matter how believable anyone was, but every author ending articles with "And yes, I pass."

And now I'd just like to know what set of FTMs you're talking about, how many of that sort of FTM you've known, and, by the way, what does give you the right to dictate to FTMs how men behave.

I don't know any of that sort of FtM personally. I have noticed a number. As for what gives me the right? It's called peer pressure. If I see someone who's supposed to be an adult male acting like an insecure junior high boy, of the type I have unfond memories of, I reserve the right to sneer.

If you want to be a man, you're going to be judged by men's standards, and no one has to cut you any slack.

Oh, and in conclusion, this is one example of what privilege is: being reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

I don't think I or anyone else ever said that transsexual's weren't real people. The question is whether anyone takes them seriously in their chosen gender.

Since everyone else spends a lifetime in a gender they didn't choose (unless we go into the odd metaphysical theory) discovering what it means to be a man or woman, I don't think it's unfair to say that transsexual individuals are a decided disadvantage in figuring it out or even "getting it right," assuming of course that manhood or womanhood is defined by group consensus, not just individual conception.

If all that counts is individual conception, then Michael Jackson is in fact Peter Pan.

#196 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 02:21 PM:

As for the posturing and status seeking, the two biggest insults for a man are that he has a tiny dick and no balls, only perhaps topped by allegations that he is in fact a woman/girl in drag. If a FtM gets in my face, can I make these?

Unless you want to give everyone within hearing the impression that you are insecure about your own manhood, I would strongly advise against it.

It must be such a relief for someone to finally have their physical selves match the knowledge of their inner eye. To breathe free air at last after spending all the years since their birth with an oxygen mask and a heavy tank.

And there you are, with a tank and mask ready, insisting they put it back on. How dare they breathe your air?

I have lived for the last twenty-five years in the heart of the GLBT communities of three large cities, and do so now, and not once has any t/g individual ever "gotten in my face." This is just a hunch on my part, but I think it may be because I don't insist they cannot be who and what they know themselves to be.

#197 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 02:34 PM:

If you want to be a man, you're going to be judged by men's standards

How are these different from women's standards? I still want to know what "special female-only slack" is, too.

#198 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 04:20 PM:

Topic drift... in a big way


"And it wasn't just the confederacy that caused oppression, segregation, and all that other fun happy stuff that brings this whole conversation up anyway. The Confederacy and the Union basically fell apart because of states rights' vs. federal rights. (yes, I know my punctuation, grammer, and what not is horrible and I apologize profusely) Abolitionists threw a hissy fit and it was the fact that slavery existed that was used by Lincoln to go to war with the southern states that had seceded from the United States in order to bring them back."

Granted, things like Dredd Scott perpetuated lots of troubles but saying Lincoln used slavery as an excuse to recover the southern state, because the Abolitionists wanted it is a big stretch.

In, "Allegience" Detzer's book on the battle for Fort Sumter, he quotes a numbr of letters and diaries, from before the election, showing Charlestonians who fully expected to go to war, if Lincoln was elected.

Once the South chose to secede, the war was inevitable, but the cause was the secession, not slavery (for all that the war became a crusade on the subject).

Lincoln's writings, if nothing else, from both before, and during the war, ought to make this perfectly clear.

Terry K.

#199 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 06:26 PM:

Met another FtM at a party a year or so after, who was proudly telling everyone about her operation.

The rest of this para sounds like you're talking about an MtF. Typo, or am I misunderstanding the usage? To me, FtM=Female to Male (goal: maleness), and MtF=Male to Female (goal: femaleness).

#200 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:01 PM:

Oh, and in conclusion, this is one example of what privilege is: being reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

I don't think I or anyone else ever said that transsexual's weren't real people. The question is whether anyone takes them seriously in their chosen gender.


"Oh, isn't she cute, acting as if she was a man or something, doing a man's job..." Yeah. Women who were put down for doing "men's work", or men who are put down for doing "women's work", sure, they're being treated as if they had validity, treated decently.

How is mocking someone's gender presentation "treating them as real people" ?

Since everyone else spends a lifetime in a gender they didn't choose (unless we go into the odd metaphysical theory) discovering what it means to be a man or woman, I don't think it's unfair to say that transsexual individuals are a decided disadvantage in figuring it out or even "getting it right," assuming of course that manhood or womanhood is defined by group consensus, not just individual conception.

Huh? Perhaps you mistyped, but I have *no* idea what you're trying to express, there.

#201 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:09 PM:

Xopher--

Typo. Meant MtF.


Sennoma--

I can't really speak as to the difference of women's standards in regards to men's standards, except as an outside observer. However, as an outside observer, I have heard things such as this line, attributed to MZB in reference to a certain MtF author: "I'll take her seriously as a woman the day she gets her period."

On that note, one item of special female-only slack: the ability to blame temporary bouts of unpleasantness on PMS and have this taken as a valid excuse.

There are others, but I won't list them. Suffice it to say, they exist.

Pericat--

I have lived for the last twenty-five years in the heart of the GLBT communities of three large cities, and do so now, and not once has any t/g individual ever "gotten in my face." This is just a hunch on my part, but I think it may be because I don't insist they cannot be who and what they know themselves to be.

Unfortunately, who and what I am is not a mollycoddling yes-man. I'm often rude, but I have something of a reputation for honesty and a sharp eye, and I've more than once had friends and acquaintances come to me because I'll give them a frank opinion without sugarcoating or pulling punches. If someone's inner self doesn't match their outer self, and they spend large amounts of money on surgery, wardrobe, and acting lessons to change it, I'm not going to lie and say the transformation is successful if I can see that it isn't.

You can make metaphors of air and oxygen tanks all you like, but what I find asphyxiating is people insisting that you lie to them.

#202 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 08:59 PM:

Trinker,

"Oh, isn't she cute, acting as if she was a man or something, doing a man's job..." Yeah. Women who were put down for doing "men's work", or men who are put down for doing "women's work", sure, they're being treated as if they had validity, treated decently.

How is mocking someone's gender presentation "treating them as real people" ?

Well, speaking as a man who knows how to cook and bake--and do it far better than my sister, who's a doctor--I think I can address this.

Are we mocking the non-gender-traditional roles, or are we mocking the skill with which they are performed?

Cooking and medicine are both skills with traditional gender ties but in the end are valued for the nature of the skill and the skill of the practitioner.

However, with the exception of drag acts, I can't think of a single reason why "gender presentation" would be valued as a skill beyond the personal. And even then, why shouldn't it be judged the same as cooking or medicine? A fallen cake, a bad suture, being a particularly unconvincing man or woman?

Since everyone else spends a lifetime in a gender they didn't choose (unless we go into the odd metaphysical theory) discovering what it means to be a man or woman, I don't think it's unfair to say that transsexual individuals are a decided disadvantage in figuring it out or even "getting it right," assuming of course that manhood or womanhood is defined by group consensus, not just individual conception.

Huh? Perhaps you mistyped, but I have *no* idea what you're trying to express, there.

To rephrase, I'm a man. I've grown up all my life learning what "being a man" is about, both from societal education/consensus, and the simple fact of biology, having a male body going through puberty and whatnot. A woman, deciding at twenty that she's actually a man who somehow got a woman's body, is not going to have had the twenty-odd years of societal training or the biological experience of growing up in a male body.

People can wax poetic all they like about the "inner eye" and personal conception, but a woman telling a man what it's like to be a man has all the authority of a virgin telling a hooker what it's like to have sex, since she's been imagining it for the past twenty years.

#203 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 09:35 PM:

On that note, one item of special female-only slack: the ability to blame temporary bouts of unpleasantness on PMS and have this taken as a valid excuse.

On the other hand, I've heard it said that the main difference between men and women is that women only have PMS a few days a month.

Trinker, I don't see that mocking someone is treating them as less than human. In fact, mocking need not be unfriendly. But even if it is, I don't see how it could be called dehumanizing. I think ignoring someone is more dehumanizing than mocking them.

I have no experience of women among themselves (there's always at least one man there when I'm there, drat it). Do women in private never mock one another? Certainly men in private mock one another; it's part of male bonding. Even when it's viscious and hurtful, one is supposed to laugh and say "Good one!" or some such nonsense. I tend to leave the room when these little contests start; but I mind being ignored much more.

And women certainly mock men, especially the men they're attached to. Are they treating them as less than human? I don't understand that point of view.

But perhaps you're saying that mocking gender presentation is different than other forms of mocking. Men (especially gay men) certainly mock each other on that basis. "You're butch? Honey, you could die with the secret." "Oh, yeah, that's manly" (of something fem).

I'm NOT saying it isn't rude; it certainly is. But I don't see how denying the success of their attempted gender presentation is equivalent to denying their humanity.

#204 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 10:27 PM:

Xopher,

Excellent points. Though as to the women in private, I can answer that in the affirmative, since back in college I had the experience I had the experience of being in my kitchen in the dorms when a group of women came in to the dining area to talk dish on each other, their boyfriends, their boyfriend's equipment, and many things that were not supposed to be said in the presence of a man. I finished making my dinner, hearing the first fifteen or so minutes of the conversation, then came around the corner and heard them stop in shock "You heard everything?" "You were there the whole time" ("Yes, and yes.")

After a brief moment, they decided the only way to deal with the impropriety was to consider me an honorary woman for the evening and continue their conversation as before.

Mocking isn't a woman thing or a man thing. It's a human thing.

#205 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:47 PM:

And women certainly mock men, especially the men they're attached to. Are they treating them as less than human? I don't understand that point of view.

Less than human, maybe not. But I don't think that makes it okay.

I suppose it depends on the mocking. When it's teasing, I'm much more inclined to accept it as all in good fun. My friends and I do that to each other; we do it about ourselves, too, mostly in the vein of Oh-god-lookit-what-dorks-we-are. Out and out mocking I don't like from anyone. I've felt the need in the past to say to (male) friends, "Okay, stop - cruelty off." I don't think belittling putdowns are okay between men, or from men about what they see as girly and frivolous qualities in the women in their lives - and I don't think it's okay for women to dismiss some lapse in sense, or sensitivity, or whatever, with a roll of the eyes and "Well, you can't help it, you're a guy." That kind of thing really, really gets under my skin - and it certainly does nothing to bridge the gulf, real or perceived, between genders.

(Take rant with salt to taste, I suppose. It's entirely possible that some of this comes from having spent a lot of time as "honorary chick" myself and having grown to like it a lot more than whatever I was supposed to be when I hung out more with Guy's Guys and started to choke on the testosterone cloud. There's a lot of stuff I've never understood about "male bonding," nor wanted any part of, and slinging kick-in-the-balls insults at each other is right there at the top of the list.)

#206 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 11:54 PM:

Bladetech Dropped and Offset holster is legal only for women in International Defensive Pistol Association competition - though some women think it shouldn't be.

The "offset" feature of this holster allows for a greater degree of outward cant, which positions the grip of your pistol away from the body in a vertical position for more positive indexing. This holster also features a "drop" which lowers the placement of the pistol for an easier reach allowing the arm to remain more extended. This holster is very popular for range work and is perfect for women's contours. Tactical Black

#207 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 04:00 PM:

Kevin: To rephrase, I'm a man. I've grown up all my life learning what "being a man" is about, both from societal education/consensus, and the simple fact of biology, having a male body going through puberty and whatnot. A woman, deciding at twenty that she's actually a man who somehow got a woman's body, is not going to have had the twenty-odd years of societal training or the biological experience of growing up in a male body.

Orthogonal to (or regardless of) external experience, some of us grew up trying to learn to be human beings, not a particular gender.

#208 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 04:18 PM:

Kevin -- one item of special female-only slack: the ability to blame temporary bouts of unpleasantness on PMS and have this taken as a valid excuse.

That's not slack, that's biology. If a person's hormones are all over the place, their innards are cramping up like they drank Drano and their private parts are doing some very inconvenient bleeding, it is most emphatically not "cutting them slack" to appreciate their difficulties, any more than I am asking for slack when I decline to, say, move furniture with a broken arm. I grant you that some female slackers will trade unfairly on these biological realities, but that again is a human, not a specifically female, tendency.

Similarly, that crack about "taking her seriously as a woman when she gets her period" is some ugly bigoted shit, no matter who said it. It illustrates no difference (my contention is that there IS no difference) between principles on the basis of sex.

There are others, but I won't list them. Suffice it to say, they exist.

If you want me to believe they exist, you'll have to list 'em. (It's fine, of course, if you don't care what I believe. I'm just saying, is all.)

#209 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 07:18 PM:

But perhaps you're saying that mocking gender presentation is different than other forms of mocking.

I find it equally offensive to hear "oh, so&so should act like a REAL MAN(or woman)" as "oh, so&so is really a man PRETENDING to be a woman".

I don't have a problem with the sort of genitalia I got, but I don't see why I should care if someone else has a problem with theirs. I think they're still in the same boat as me if we're both getting "act like a $defined-by-others-person". I've had quite enough of being slammed for not being *sufficiently my gender* to want for anyone else to get that as well.

#210 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 07:26 PM:

To rephrase, I'm a man. I've grown up all my life learning what "being a man" is about, both from societal education/consensus, and the simple fact of biology, having a male body going through puberty and whatnot.

Y'know what? FTM's go through a second puberty from the hormone treatments. They grow up around "being a man", and they experience "being a man" when they're not being shoved back into the "you were born female" box.

A woman, deciding at twenty that she's actually a man who somehow got a woman's body, is not going to have had the twenty-odd years of societal training or the biological experience of growing up in a male body.

That's not usually what happens. Most people with gender dysphoria know from much younger than age 20. I'll buy the line that they're *trans* and not *male* at the end. FTMs are not women in the same way that someone with XX chromosomes without gender dysphoria is a woman.

People can wax poetic all they like about the "inner eye" and personal conception, but a woman telling a man what it's like to be a man has all the authority of a virgin telling a hooker what it's like to have sex, since she's been imagining it for the past twenty years.

Not quite an apt analogy. More like "someone who was a virgin until just recently has a different experience than someone who has been having sex for 20 years". And I think you're ignoring the process of transition.

#211 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2003, 08:06 PM:

Whether mocking is cruel tends to be context-dependent, and takes into account the personal and power relationships between the mocker(s) and mockee(s).

Setting personal relationships aside, a good rule of thumb with regard to teasing is as follows:

1. Power-up mocking (ridiculing the powerful) is generally more acceptable than power-down mocking (kicking 'em when they're down).

2. Mutual mocking within a power-down or marginalized group is acceptable, whereas mocking of members of that group by those outside the group is risky.

-l.

#212 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 03:23 AM:

Sennoma,

Do you realize the discrepancy between describing the pain and suffering involved in monthly female biology, then dismissing the MZB comment about the period as "ugly bigotted shit"?

To put it in a more palatable context, read it this way: "I will consider someone a member of my group when they have shared all the experiences of my group, especially the painful trials and tribulations which help to define us. If someone cannot share these things, they will forever be an outsider, no matter how sympathetic they might otherwise be."

As for the other examples, I didn't list them because it would get tedious, and one is sufficient for illustration purposes. The slack given to female biology is special female slack.

Trinker,

Oh, I too have been slammed for not acting sufficiently "my gender," and for acting too much "my gender." I think everybody has.

With the idea of gender dysphoria, I'll admit I'm somewhat boggled by the whole concept. I don't think a single person on the planet has gotten exactly the body they've always wanted, and much of life is simply learning to make do with what you've got and be happy with what you have. Besides which, getting a half-assed approximation of what you want is not the same thing as getting what you want, and even if you could get exactly what you want, it's not the same thing as getting it via the luck of the draw. There's no possibility of pleasant surprises.

With transitioning, while it may be a similar experience, I don't think it's the same experience. Regular teenagers don't take hormones until they're satisfied with their degree of chest hair or the size of their breasts. It's a lot more uncertain.

But as I mentioned earlier, I view gender as more a matter of self discovery than self invention or even self image.

#213 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 03:55 AM:

Do you realize the discrepancy between describing the pain and suffering involved in monthly female biology, then dismissing the MZB comment about the period as "ugly bigotted shit"?

Kevin, there is no discrepancy. There is enormous variation in period pain. I have minor cramps: they go away if I can go for a long walk, lie down with a hot water bottle, or take a couple of Paracetamol. I have friends who have no period pains at all. I have friends who have had literally disabling period pains. FYI, we do not measure womanhood by degree of period pain.

To put it in a more palatable context, read it this way: "I will consider someone a member of my group when they have shared all the experiences of my group, especially the painful trials and tribulations which help to define us. If someone cannot share these things, they will forever be an outsider, no matter how sympathetic they might otherwise be."

Sorry. No. Not all women have shared the same experiences as me. I have not shared the same experiences as all women. To use a concrete example, there are women who are scared to walk down a deserted street at night alone - or worse yet, a street full of drunken football fans who have all just left the pub. I'm not. I never have been, despite a couple of slightly ugly incidents. I understand their terror, but I don't share it. But the fact that I am confident walking alone at night does not make me "not a woman".

What this is is yet another variety of the unpleasantly divisive tactic "You're not a real woman." Because, you see, a "real woman" fits in to the category devised for her by whoever is defining "real woman" this week.

Oh, I too have been slammed for not acting sufficiently "my gender," and for acting too much "my gender." I think everybody has.

And did you enjoy it? Are you passing on what you found to be an enjoyable experience to others?

#214 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 01:55 PM:

FYI, we do not measure womanhood by degree of period pain.

Then what do you measure it by? If you don't measure something by shared biology or shared experience, is there any difference between a woman and a man? What's the difference between a cup and a bowl? As I define it, bowls are generally larger and cups usually have handles, but there are bowls with handles and cups that are larger than bowls. Likewise, cups are generally used for beverages and bowls for foods, but food/beverage, what's the difference?

If there is no difference, then why should anyone care what pronoun one uses? If you break the handle off a large cup and call it a bowl, why get upset because someone else still calls it a cup? If I pour a bowl of gazpacho into a glass and add a shot of vodka, I have a bloody Mary, which is not only a beverage but a cocktail, but if I pour a shot of sherry into my pea soup and leave it in the bowl, it's not considered a cocktail and is still considered soup.

My take on the whole transsexual/transgender thing is that it's a bunch of people running around yelling, "I'm not a soup, I'm a cocktail!" and expecting people to not look crosseyed when they pour bouillabaisse into a margarita glass and add grenadine syrup and a parasol.

But the fact that I am confident walking alone at night does not make me "not a woman".

The same as being cold or sweet doesn't make a soup not a soup, or being spicy, savory or non-alcoholic make a cocktail not a cocktail. But here we are talking the specific as opposed to the general, and the general is what both stereotypes and conceptions are formed from.

Is a man who is not confident walking alone at night not a man? Or might someone say he's acting like a little girl?

And when the little girl is walking alone and confident down the dark street at night, is she acting like a man? Or is she a man, if all that matters is self conception?

And did you enjoy it? Are you passing on what you found to be an enjoyable experience to others?

There's a difference between saying "What a lovely . . . cocktail" or "What an interesting . . . soup" in polite company, when you don't want to hurt someone's feelings, and saying in an internet forum that you don't think maraschino cherries belong in vichyssoise or that it's not a good idea to top eggnog with chili powder.

Some people have more expansive definitions of "soup" and "cocktail" and some have more narrow definitions of "man" and "woman." If you get too expansive, the definitions are meaningless, and likewise if you get too narrow.

Considering transgender/transexual to be "not men" and "not women" is not the same as thinking of them as "not human." Likewise, classing "fondue" as "not soup" and "not cocktail" does not mean that it is not edible.

Sexuality is a complex business, and the idea of "passing" treads into the dangerous territory of feeding Jews and vegetarians pea soup, then saying "Surprise! You didn't know there was ham in it!" Or worse, denying that there is ham when they can see the bits.

Arguably, yes, it's all very silly, but everyone's entitled to their own silliness. It shouldn't matter whether you kiss a man or a woman, but to some people it does. Likewise, it shouldn't matter whether you eat pork or not, but to some people it does.

#215 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 02:42 PM:

Kevin said: Oh, I too have been slammed for not acting sufficiently "my gender," and for acting too much "my gender." I think everybody has.

I asked: And did you enjoy it? Are you passing on what you found to be an enjoyable experience to others?

Kevin, you then took 224 words not to answer either question.

#216 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 06:09 PM:

Yonmei,

And you've dodged all sorts of questions too, but I'll bite if you will: Answer the questions in the 224 word "not answering" and I will answer what I had taken to be your rhetorical questions:

And did you enjoy it?

Enjoy? No. I don't think anyone "enjoys" getting slammed. However, I did appreciate the forthrightness and laying the particular beef out in boldface print, for me to accept or reject as I saw fit.

Truth often hurts, and painful as it may be, I prefer it to lies.

Are you passing on what you found to be an enjoyable experience to others?

As I think I've established, being subjected to honest, unflattering opinions is not "enjoyable," but I find it preferable to sycophants blowing colored smoke up my ass. So no, I'm not passing on an "enjoyable experience," except in that people choking on lies and sycophancy occasionally seek out an honest opinion to clear their heads.

Now that I've answered your (I thought rhetorical) questions, answer mine:

1. [If] we do not measure womanhood by degree of period pain, Then what do you measure it by?

2. If you don't measure something by shared biology or shared experience, is there any difference between a woman and a man?

3. What's the difference between a cup and a bowl?

4.food/beverage, what's the difference?

5. If there is no difference, then why should anyone care what pronoun one uses?

6. If you break the handle off a large cup and call it a bowl, why get upset because someone else still calls it a cup?

7. Is a man who is not confident walking alone at night not a man?

8. Or might someone say he's acting like a little girl?

9. And when the little girl is walking alone and confident down the dark street at night, is she acting like a man?

10. Or is she a man, if all that matters is self conception?

and finally:

11. If self conception is all that matters, is Michael Jackson indeed Peter Pan?

#217 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 06:59 PM:

Kevin - you mentioned a couple of times that you take pride in always telling the truth, and would rather have the truth told to you instead of being lied to.

I interpret my job requirements to mean that I must be bluntly truthful at all times -- and I also try very hard to leave that persona at the office.


In my non-professional life, I try to know when it's appropriate to lie and when to tell the truth, which is harder than simply telling the truth. I suspect you are not married, because if you were married, you would know this too. The question "Does this dress make me look fat?" might APPEAR to require a yes/no answer, but not if you're a man and that question is coming from your wife.

If I see a man or woman who appears ridiculous for any reason, I think back to the times I have appeared ridiculous in public, and how the people around me behaved, and then try to behave informed by those memories.

For example, back when I was in college Southern Rock was very popular -- the movie Urban Cowboy had just come out -- and like many young men, I affected cowboy clothing. I wore jeans and cowboy boots and either western-cut shirts or black T-shirts. My head size is HUGE and I find it hard to find hats to fit me, but I found a black cowboy hat that came close to fitting me, and I wore that.

Now that's a picture, ain't it? I was a 2ish Jewish nerd from Long Island walking around in cowboy clothes, with a too-small cowboy hat perched precariously on the top of his head. What right have I to cast stones?


#218 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 06:59 PM:

Last paragraph should read: 20ish rather than "2ish."

#219 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 07:44 PM:

I am quite comfortable as a man, but I also recognize that I am somewhat deviant from societal preconceptions about manhood.

I don't worry anymore about whether I measure up as a man -- although I have only recently come to terms with the fact that I just plain like women better, as friends. Most of my friends are women. That used to bother me. Now, less so, although I do often try to make extra effort to connect with men.

I am very comfortable with trading insults with my male friends, especially with ONE PARTICULAR male friend. When I trade insults with this guy, a lot of the language we use is downright sexist and homophobic, and yet neither one of us is actually sexist or homophobic in real life. I don't know why this is.

I was extremely sensitive when I was a boy, when I was teased by the other children, but as an adult I realize this is just how some people talk and I don't take it personally. On the other hand, I do think it's harmful; it encourages conformity and shame.

#220 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2003, 11:32 PM:

Mitch,

The question is, whose conformity and whose shame? I've been called a bigot repeatedly in this thread, with no apologies (it's galling how the self-appointed guardians of the PC are allowed to do that, and continually get away with it), and had any number of variants of the "Who are you to judge?" and "Cast not the first stone" lines aimed at me. If that's not a way of telling someone to shut up and conform to someone else's way of thinking, what is?

I realize that "Does this dress make me look fat?" is code for "Tell me I'm beautiful." I don't have a wife, but if my mother, sister or current girlfriend ask that, I suggest jewelry or accessories to go with their outfit. Unless the dress is truly awful, in which case I'll answer with "I liked the blue one better."

I have, and recently, had a friend laugh and tell me a hat looked ridiculous, since I have the same huge head problem (oh to only have it be Bullwinkle's "I take a 7 1/2" [7 5/8th or 7 3/4ths here]), and I was vainly attempting to wear an antique silk top hat my sister got me on ebay. I was, however, happy for the information and conceded defeat, buying a new non-silk topper that did fit my head, returning the other one.

The trouble with tolerance is that people are always pushing the envelope and demanding that you believe what they believe or at least pay them lip service, no matter how whacked out you find their beliefs or how incompatible with your own beliefs those beliefs are. I should not have to believe that one person is and always was whatever gender they say they are and the next was abducted by space aliens and the third was subjected to ritual abuse by a secret cult of satanists with francises everywhere and the fourth saw the power of the Dark God emanating from David Lee Roth in the middle of a Van Halen show. I have met all these people, and rank their ideas right up there with the concept that pork is unholy and Jewish carpenters occasionally rise from the dead. Which, I might add, are concepts which have millions of people subscribing to them around the world, or at least paying the ideas lip service.

I shouldn't have to pay anyone lip service, no matter how happy it makes them, or how much they and their adherents bully and badger me.

#221 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 12:24 AM:

Kevin - I wrote a lovely reply to your post, but I bloody cancelled it instead of sending it. Argh. Here's the condensed version:

I've been reading this entire thread and I still can't figure out what points you are trying to make. That you believe you have a good radar for transsexuals? You probably do -- I've certainly seen many that are pretty obvious. That transsexuals look ridiculous? Depends on your definition of the word ridiculous -- I'm over 40, I have thinning hair, I wear glasses that I can't seem to get clean, and I wear suspenders because my damn belly is so big that my pants won't stay up otherwise. I figure that if I start pointing fingers at other people's appearance, fingers will be pointing back at me pretty soon. We're a ridiculous lot, we mortal humans, and we get MORE ridiculous as we get older and more wrinkled and lumpier.


Are you trying to say that a transsexual man can't REALLY be a man? Says who? They have a dick and balls, don't they? What criteria for manhood are you using? I figure there's room for transsexuals in any gender that already includes you, me, Michael Jackson, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Ernest Hemingway, David Bowie, Elton John, Dennis Rodman, John Wayne, Ed Asner, and this fella.

You complain about "self-appointed guardians of the PC" and write: "The trouble with tolerance is that people are always pushing the envelope and demanding that you believe what they believe or at least pay them lip service, no matter how whacked out you find their beliefs or how incompatible with your own beliefs those beliefs are. I should not have to believe that one person is and always was whatever gender they say they are and the next was abducted by space aliens and the third was subjected to ritual abuse by a secret cult of satanists with francises everywhere and the fourth saw the power of the Dark God emanating from David Lee Roth in the middle of a Van Halen show. I have met all these people, and rank their ideas right up there with the concept that pork is unholy and Jewish carpenters occasionally rise from the dead."

I have trouble with the word "PC" and the phrase "political correctness," because it is often used, as you have used it, to signal that the speaker is standing up courageously to voice a minority view, when in fact the speaker is voicing a commonplace view, one which is not threatened at all. Of the beliefs that you say you bravely uphold, ALL of them are commonplace mainstream beliefs. Most Americans think that it's just rubbish to believe in alien abductions, ritual Satanic abuse, demonic possession of David Lee Roth, and the unholiness of pork, and even though most Americans say they believe in the Resurrection, in fact that belief is worn very lightly and there's strong precedent for disagreement.

I mean, really, do you think you'd have ANY trouble being elected to office anywhere -- even in San Francisco -- if it came out that you thought transsexuals were weird, you didn't believe in alien abductions, ritual Satanic abuse, ritual possession of David Lee Roth, you didn't keep kosher and -- when it came down to it -- you weren't particularly Christian either?

"Tolerance" doesn't demand that you believe what other people believe or even pay "lip service" to their beliefs -- it simply means that you should TOLERATE them.

#222 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 03:43 AM:

Mitch,

Yeah, I've lost a couple posts the last few days too. I'm feeling we're almost back in the days of GEnie.

With the "Judge not lest ye be judged/People who live in glass houses..." business, I find it tiresome, and frankly kind of wimpy. It's "Shut up, or you might be the victim of gossip."

With the PC point, a common opinion from general society may still be a minority opinion in a smaller community, and indeed, in smaller communities, the PC opinion may become the majority opinion. It's also a hallmark of PC-fascism to call anyone who disagrees with you a bigot.

Tolerance should of course mean, in the pure sense, that you tolerate people, but my point was that once you tolerate them, the more fervent will insist that you AGREE with them too.

With "man," my definition is pretty much "biological male human of college age or older." I can accept that other people's definitions include FtM transsexuals in that, or even pre-op wannabe transexuals who dress the part, the same as I can accept that ancient Judaic law counts anyone who's had their Bar Mitzvah as being an adult--though honestly, I personally have trouble thinking of a thirteen-year-old as a man.

For me, the requisite rite-of-passage is the high school graduation, which of course means that age can vary slightly as people skip ahead or are held back.

Part of tolerance is of course agreeing to disagree. We do not have to have the same precise definitions of "man" to carry on a civil discussion, and we can even carry on a practical discussion of men so long as the majority of our definitions intersect.

The majority of Americans do not think of FtM transsexuals when you talk about men the same as they do not think about thirteen-year-old Jewish boys. This is meant as no slight to either group, but they're pretty much at the fringe when you talk about current-day American concepts of manhood.

I suppose my point is that you can expand concepts however you like, but if you keep doing that, the result is chaos. If you can have gender dysphoria, you can have age dysphoria and race dysphoria. And if all it takes beyond that is an enlightened public and appropriate surgery and legal twists, then Michael Jackson is in fact a ten-year-old English boy named Peter Pan like he says, and he's only had one nosejob. And if anything sexual did happen in that bed, it's legally the fault of that thirteen-year-old man who's making the complaint--since if we're going to shoehorn FtM transexuals into the accepted social and legal definition of men in America, we might as well include every male (or wannabe male) of sufficient age to have his Bar Mitzvah. It certainly has more legal precedent, and would save us endless wrangling about whether we can try one teenager as an adult but not the next.

#223 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 03:58 AM:

Kevin,

Thanks for answering my questions. No, they weren't rhetorical: I was genuinely curious whether you'd enjoyed being slammed for your gender and your appearance. I note for information's sake that you didn't enjoy it but that you hold the opinion that "the truth hurts but is preferable to lies".

You claim being subjected to honest, unflattering opinions is not "enjoyable," but I find it preferable to sycophants blowing colored smoke up my ass.

(Though I note that although you claim to prefer to be subjected to honest, unflattering opinions, your first paragraph to Mitch at November 23, 2003 11:32 PM would seem to belie this claim. Where's your preference for my honest, unflattering opinion that you're a bigot? Are you telling Mitch that you'd rather I blew coloured smoke up your ass?*)

So no, I'm not passing on an "enjoyable experience," except in that people choking on lies and sycophancy occasionally seek out an honest opinion to clear their heads.

Well, take it that I'm passing on an honest opinion to you: you may not like it, but you've clearly stated your preference for it.

1. [If] we do not measure womanhood by degree of period pain, Then what do you measure it by?

I don't. I think "measuring womanhood" is a stupid idea. Sorry for not making this clear.

2. If you don't measure something by shared biology or shared experience, is there any difference between a woman and a man?

Which woman and which man?

3. What's the difference between a cup and a bowl?

Which cup and which bowl? (As you pointed out with admirable clarity, it's a sliding scale.)

4.food/beverage, what's the difference?

Which food and which beverage? Again, sliding scale, draw your own conclusions.

5. If there is no difference, then why should anyone care what pronoun one uses?

Politeness. The name on your birth certificate may be, for all I know, "Evelyn Cecil Squiddy McJefferson". However, you self-present as Kevin Andrew Murphy: I therefore politely accept that you wish to be called Kevin, and do so. Equally, if someone self-presents as a woman or a man, I politely accept that they wish to use the pronoun of their choice.

6. If you break the handle off a large cup and call it a bowl, why get upset because someone else still calls it a cup?

If you go to pottery classes, make yourself a cup, take it home, and use it one night for an acquaintance to drink coffee out of, why get upset if the acquaintance spends all night giggling and pointing out all the flaws in the coffee cup? Answer to rhetorical question: because the acquaintance is being rude.

7. Is a man who is not confident walking alone at night not a man?

Why wouldn't he be?

8. Or might someone say he's acting like a little girl?

Someone very rude might, yes.

9. And when the little girl is walking alone and confident down the dark street at night, is she acting like a man?

No.

10. Or is she a man, if all that matters is self conception?

What makes you think that walking alone and confident down a dark street at night is "acting like a man"?

11. If self conception is all that matters, is Michael Jackson indeed Peter Pan?

As far as I know, Kevin, Michael Jackson doesn't in fact think of himself as Peter Pan**. However, he does seem to want to retreat into childhood, so let me answer your question on that basis.

If Michael Jackson wants to retreat into childhood, why not let him? So long as he harms no one else in doing so. There are incidents (carelessness with his own children, not to mention these sleepover dates with 12 year old boys) where he does seem to be causing harm to others - and I think he should be prevented from doing so. But why stand in the way of his desire to retreat into an idyllic image of childhood? He may be very seriously nuts, but while he harms no one, let him do as he will.

*Which, frankly, is not a sexual preference I'm in touch with.

**But I know damn-all about Michael Jackson beyond what reaches the headlines and Have I Got News For You, so maybe he does.

PS It's been brought to my attention that I've been mis-spelling Teresa's name.

Sorry, Teresa.

#224 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 04:46 AM:

I realize that "Does this dress make me look fat?" is code for "Tell me I'm beautiful." I don't have a wife, but if my mother, sister or current girlfriend ask that, I suggest jewelry or accessories to go with their outfit. Unless the dress is truly awful, in which case I'll answer with "I liked the blue one better."

And if I ask, "Does this dress make me look fat?" I -mean- "Does this dress make me lool fat?" and expect a real, honest answer, which, for that matter, I would expect to be "yes" half of the time or more, because I wouldn't be asking if I didn't already have strong doubts. (Actually, I've never asked that, nor have I ever heard another woman ask that. But I've certainly asked, "Does this dress look good? Should I buy it?" which I suppose could be read as much the same thing, without the implication that all women are insecure in their bodies.)

It's a strongly gender discriminatory statement to assume that women can't face up to the truth and want to hear lies. Your phrasing certainly carries with it (given the use of dress, mother, sister, wife) the correlation that this is a trait shared only by women, and that -men-, on the other hand, can face up to the truth. (Or, of course, it could be read as having the correlation that men never ask for reassurance on their appearance -- but my experience with males would suggest that to be blatantly false.)

#225 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 05:40 AM:

Yonmei,

I think we may be separated by a common language here. In American usage, at least in my neck of the woods, "bigot" is a slur, on par with "whore" or "fag." While it may be an honest thought, the expression is fighting words, and I object to it on those grounds.

It's also untrue. I have a couple of old friends who dropped off the map for a couple of years and resurfaced with sex-changes. One was very nervous about acceptance, and I reassured her that I didn't drop friends because they'd changed politics or religion, and this was no different.

Subtext of this, of course, is that I do not have to subscribe to my friend's politics or religion, no matter how important it is to them personally. One of my best friends is a Republican who voted for Bush--an act I do not approve of either, though it was his right--and yet we can still discuss politics civilly.

I accept what you're saying about pronoun use on the politeness end, and use it that way myself out of practicality, though it gets very confusing when you're talking about past tense events when they were the other gender.

With Michael Jackson, while I agree with you on his right to retreat into childhood--a nice one he's made up, as opposed to the awful one he had--my question was along the lines of "Is deciding mentally that you are really ten year olds the same thing as actually being ten years old, or at least for purpose of treatment by society?" ie. Why not extend the same courtesy to age dysphoria as you wish with gender dysphoria?

With men and women, point taken with "which." Question: Can you define manhood or womanhood, and if so, how?

Obviously people who get sex change operations have defined the terms in some fashion, otherwise they wouldn't be bothering.

#226 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 06:18 AM:

I think we may be separated by a common language here. In American usage, at least in my neck of the woods, "bigot" is a slur, on par with "whore" or "fag." While it may be an honest thought, the expression is fighting words, and I object to it on those grounds.

So? You don't have a problem with expressing hurtful slurs about transgendered people, because that's your "honest opinion". It's my honest opinion that you're bigoted.

It's also untrue. I have a couple of old friends who dropped off the map for a couple of years and resurfaced with sex-changes. One was very nervous about acceptance, and I reassured her that I didn't drop friends because they'd changed politics or religion, and this was no different.

It's a classic bigot line: "I'm perfectly nice to my friends, how can I be bigoted?"

I accept what you're saying about pronoun use on the politeness end, and use it that way myself out of practicality, though it gets very confusing when you're talking about past tense events when they were the other gender.

I accept that point, but you know, when talking to people who never knew that the person you are discussing used to be another gender, there is hardly ever any reason to use the old pronoun. (I accept that "When I first knew him, he was pregnant" or "I met her when we were both registered sperm donors" are going to call for some explanation. But short of that? No.)

With Michael Jackson, while I agree with you on his right to retreat into childhood--a nice one he's made up, as opposed to the awful one he had--my question was along the lines of "Is deciding mentally that you are really ten year olds the same thing as actually being ten years old, or at least for purpose of treatment by society?" ie. Why not extend the same courtesy to age dysphoria as you wish with gender dysphoria?

I doubt if Michael Jackson really wants to be treated as if he were 10 years old by society (have a court-appointed guardian, be made to attend full-time education, not have full control over his finances). However, should he wish to do so, yes, I would fully support his right to choose that lifestyle. Why not?

With men and women, point taken with "which." Question: Can you define manhood or womanhood, and if so, how?

No. And why should I? Virtually anything that is true of a man is also true of a woman, and vice versa. Why do you feel the need to define "manhood" / "womanhood" in universal terms?

Obviously people who get sex change operations have defined the terms in some fashion, otherwise they wouldn't be bothering.

Yes. And on an individual level, everyone has the right to do that, and to have the decisions they've made respected, not mocked. Mocking is the act of a bigot.

#227 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 06:37 AM:

Wow, all you need to do to be a bigot is mock people? Wow.

I'd thought the 24-hour bigotry and intolerance network was Fox News, but now I see it's actually Comedy Central.

Thank you for enlightening me!

#229 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 06:54 AM:

Wow, all you need to do to be a bigot is mock people? Wow.

Obviously you've never heard a bigoted joke in your life. I was going to link to a site with some for examples, but then I thought, no, Teresa doesn't deserve that.

I'm sorry, some people deserve to be mocked.

Then again, you seem to feel Teresa deserves it.

#230 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 01:03 PM:

Kevin:
What are you hoping to convey with the link that you labelled "some people deserve to be mocked" ?

It's sounding like you want to live in a world where "men are manly, women are womanly, and everyone is heterosexual". Maybe you'd like to spell it out more clearly so that there's less confusion.

And as for your question regarding what makes a cup a cup, and a bowl a bowl...Custom.

#231 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 01:57 PM:

Kevin -- Do you realize the discrepancy between describing the pain and suffering involved in monthly female biology, then dismissing the MZB comment about the period as "ugly bigotted shit"?

From my pov, this conflates two separate issues:

1. a woman who expects PMS to be taken seriously is not asking for slack; and
2. being a woman (or man) is not defined by any single criterion (indeed, I don't see any need to define it at all), and no set of criteria suffices to disqualify a person from the sex role of their choice.

On the first, you say The slack given to female biology is special female slack. To me, "slack" connotes an appeal to leniency: asking for slack is asking to be let off some responsibility for no real reason. Pregnancy and the machinery thereof are the only aspects of female biology that I can think of that don't apply to at least some men (for example, from time to time I lift heavy things for smaller men, and ask larger men to lift heavier things for me). In respect of pregnancy, it seems to me that men can't have it both ways. We don't get pregnant, but if we want women to keep on doing so we had better share in the burdens that go with it (such as PMS). More than that, women's biology is human biology, and female problems (like PMS) are human problems. Men have a share in those problems whether they acknowledge it or not, and asking for that acknowledgement is not asking for what I call slack. This does, of course, assume good faith on the part of anyone complaining about their biology. I quite agree that, for instance, a MtF who wants ill temper excused on the basis of PMS is doing something dishonorable whether or not she "passes". This seems to be the context in which Patrick first mentioned "special female slack", and with context and caveats as above firmly in place, I have no problem with it. It is the (to my taste) broad-brush flavour of phrases like "special female-only slack" and "men's standards", sans elaboration, to which I object.

On the second point, I called the MZB (or whoever) comment ugly and bigoted because it implies, on the basis of a single biological criterion, that no trans[gender/sexual] woman has any right to live as a woman -- which is ludicrous. Even if we expand that single criterion as per your paraphrase, why should any person be denied the right to live as they choose? Once again though, I am assuming good faith. If the particular MtF in question was much in people's faces, perhaps she left herself open to such nasty ripostes (although I would still contend that to actually make that counter-thrust was unsporting at best). So I will concede that "bigoted" is a stretch, but I'll stand by "ugly".

You have made much of people insisting that you go along with them (what I find asphyxiating is people insisting that you lie to them, ...my point was that once you tolerate them, the more fervent will insist that you AGREE with them too). I agree that such behaviour is obnoxious; but really, how often does it happen? Perhaps it has happened far more often in your experience than in mine (with the exception of the occasional overzealous religious proselytiser, I cannot think of a single instance right now). It seems to me that the MtF insisting that she has PMS is a rare bird and, like most birds of an "in your face" feather, more to be pitied than plucked.

#232 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 01:58 PM:

Kevin Murphy: 'm srr, sm ppl dsrv t b mckd.

Don't be too sure that you aren't one of them.

For the record, I think "bigotry" is a fair and accurate representation of your point of view.

#233 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 02:11 PM:

Although I have a sharper perception of the platonic ideals including for cup and bowl than most, much of the world hasn't (yet) noticed.

I am frequently reminded of a long ago joint party by a bunch of expat families (expats from all over the world in a Francophone community) where the English speakers caused more confusion by taking common words for common objects words as having commmon meanings than everybody else combined who worked through French as an intermediary language. To cup and bowl add basin and vase and pot and pan. CF - pan gasket for the pan on top of the engine aka valve cover gasket.

#234 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 02:25 PM:

Kevin, from your cup/bowl example, it sounds like you understand that words are only an approximate fit to the real world, and while it's good to keep the fit as accurate as possible, sometimes there are other considerations.

So why are you so outraged at the idea of someone breaking off the handle of a cup and calling it a bowl? Why do they "deserve to be mocked" for eating cereal out of it? I agree, if they walk around shoving it in peoples' faces and saying "you have to agree with me that this is a bowl, or you're a bigot", that would be annoying and offensive. But the offense comes from their behavior, not from their choice of tableware. To me, your posts seem to say the equivalent of "people who eat cereal from cups are demanding that I lie; I must point out to them that their vessel is too narrow to be a bowl."

Why is it so important to you to have really unambigous strict definitions of "man" and "woman"?

Senoma, I agree with you, except I can actually imagine a MtF using the term "PMS" as shorthand for "I don't have my hormone levels quite right yet, and it's making me physically uncomfortable and irritable."

#235 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 02:34 PM:

Trinker,

Actually, no. What I'd prefer to live in is a world where everyone has permission to laugh at everyone else and there weren't quite so many humorless prigs saying that simply thinking a particular practice silly and bizarre and saying so goes in the same category as hating people and burning crosses on their lawn.

The author of the article I linked to, Seanbaby, has already been linked to last month by Teresa where he mocks any number of other groups far less common and accepted than gays and transsexuals, including people who have sex in funny animal suits.

Then there are people who physically modify themselves into tigers or lizards, the first of whom I've actually met. Give it a few years and advances in surgery and grafting and species dysphoria will become as commonplace and accepted as gender dysphoria is now.

I do find something ridiculous in gays who do the we-are-your-nice-normal-neighbors-with-the-white-picket-fence-but-those-people-over-there-are-seriously-whacked routine, and people like Yonmei who find "hurtful slurs" in mocking comments about people doing a bad job of passing--despite the fact that I'm certain that people in the transgender community make fun of each other too--yet give a pass to people making fun of furries and Star Trek Geeks.

Eventually, of course, we'll live in a world where almost everything will be commonplace, and the guy with the Spock/Legolas ears will go into the bedroom with the girl with the double-D breasts and Farah Fawcett mane, and when she drops her skirt, revealing her dick and cloven hooves, he will look aghast and say, "My God--you're not a natural blonde!"

#236 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 02:51 PM:

despite the fact that I'm certain that people in the transgender community make fun of each other too

Yeah, I'm sure (being human) that they do. But that doesn't mean that non-transgendered people get the same slack. See LauraJMixon's wise comments at November 22, 2003 08:06 PM.

What I'd prefer to live in is a world where everyone has permission to laugh at everyone else

But even there, Kevin, I'm certain you would object to people who found your bigoted attitude and rigid ideas about gender mockable.

#237 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 03:56 PM:

Laura makes some good points, and I agree with them, excepting that what's good for politics isn't the same as what's good for comedy.

Something I've heard along the same lines is that in comedy, you're allowed to make fun of your own people and of people who historically persecuted your ancestors. Consequently, Jews and African-Americans have a leg-up on the joke material.

A half-African/half-Jewish transsexual comic would be at a real advantage.

The trouble with "bigoted attitude" and "rigid ideas about gender" is that you are using your own definitions of "bigot" and "gender," which may be more expansive than mine, but no less fixed.

I've set the fence of "bigot" so it does not include me (I tend to reserve it for people who burn crosses and engage in hate speech), but you and Alan have apparently set the fence of "bigot" so it does not include you.

However, going to Websters:

bigot

\Big"ot\, n. [F. bigot a bigot or hypocrite, a name once given to the Normans in France. Of unknown origin; possibly akin to Sp. bigote a whisker; hombre de bigote a man of spirit and vigor; cf. It. s-bigottire to terrify, to appall. Wedgwood and others maintain that bigot is from the same source as Beguine, Beghard.] 1. A hypocrite; esp., a superstitious hypocrite. [Obs.]

2. A person who regards his own faith and views in matters of religion as unquestionably right, and any belief or opinion opposed to or differing from them as unreasonable or wicked. In an extended sense, a person who is intolerant of opinions which conflict with his own, as in politics or morals; one obstinately and blindly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.

To doubt, where bigots had been content to wonder and believe. --Macaulay.

It appears that, by that larger and more expansive definition (which you evidently prefer for all things), that you and Alan are also bigots.

Since you made the line about "hurtful slurs," it would appear that you are also a hypocrite.

It's a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

Now we simply have to argue over what's a pot and what's a kettle.

#238 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 04:22 PM:

Since you made the line about "hurtful slurs," it would appear that you are also a hypocrite.

Ah, but you're the one who demanded honest opinions, even if they were hurtful. To other people, evidently, rather than to you. ;-)

#239 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 04:29 PM:

Yonmei,

Check the order of the posts. You were saying "bigot" long before I made it clear that I prefered honesty.

So again: hypocrite.

#240 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 05:39 PM:

Check the order of the posts. You were saying "bigot" long before I made it clear that I prefered honesty.

But since you do prefer honesty, what's your problem with my honest opinion of you?

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 05:52 PM:

Yonmei, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I don't think it's intrinsically bigoted to mock people. You have to be mocking them based on who they are, rather than what they do.

And that's key here, of course. What transexuals DO is change who they ARE.

I also think there's a big difference between being rude and being bigoted. If I tell a woman "You're a nutbar" in circumstances where I would say the same thing to a man, am I being bigoted? Nope. But I'm certainly being rude (no matter what; the question of whether it's called for depends on how much of a nutbar she really is).

And I certainly would not accept the right of an adult to be treated as a child just by choosing to be. Society cannot be burdened in that way. There are too many who would make exactly that choice (juvenile justice should, IMO, be given only (and always) to persons under the age of 18 -- and that's only one example of why this is a bad thing). Please tell me you don't really believe this.

Also, I think there's a big difference between respecting the decisions someone's made and pretending that they've successfully implemented those decisions. If an 8-year-old tells me he wants to be the greatest chess player who ever lived, I'll say that's a great ambition (respect). If he says he already IS the greatest, I will say "No, you aren't. You need to practice a lot more to get there." If he insists, I will mock him to his face. And I'm MORE likely to do this with an 8 y.o. I'm fond of, because I care enough to keep him from his delusion - a delusion which will impair his ability to become an excellent chess player if he believes it, and which makes a fool of him whether he believes it or not.

I guess I'd rather be laughed at to my face than behind my back.

I call MtF transexuals "she." I call FtM transexuals "he." I do not think MtFs are women, nor are FtMs men. They are transexuals. They're entitled to use the restrooms of their chosen gender and all that. I might date an FtM if I knew any; certainly I'd want to know about it. I don't think it would bother me that much, except for the whole no-prostate thing, which would be a major drawback to a serious relationship. But just friends? No issue at all. Do you think I'm a bigot?

Kevin, I didn't read that whole site - it was too annoying, but: "Jay and Silent Bob" was a visciously homophobic movie. I tried to watch it and it made me sick. Are you saying that GLAAD should be mocked for protesting it? If so, I'd like to ask: are you as Irish as your name sounds? How do you react to WASP comedians making Mick jokes?

But there just isn't the intensity of anti-Irish sentiment that there used to be; you've probably never been beaten up just for being Irish, for example. Do you have any personal or group characteristic, a who-you-are rather than a what-you-do (and trust me I was roughed up for being a faggot before it was anything I DID), for which you've been beaten up by a group of people who didn't share it?

If not, I'd respectfully submit that you don't know how it feels, and should admit that and refrain from comment. Otherwise we'll mock you!

If you DO have such a characteristic (for all I know you could be an African-American who's been stop-and-searched 500 times), I suggest that, purely as a thought experiment, you substitute that characteristic in for whatever you're mocking someone over. If someone talked about Irishmen not being able to leave the sheep alone, and how sheep keep being born with red hair, and...yadda yadda yadda, for an entire movie, that STILL wouldn't be as offensive as Jay and Silent Bob.

BTW, my family name comes from 'mac Giolla Chatain', and my mother's name was Doherty.

#242 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 07:18 PM:

Xopher, the point at which I thought "Kevin's a bigot" is when he made the comment about transsexuals: Even the most convincing tend to raise the "What's up with her?" flags, usually by dressing in a kittenish outfit that even a midwestern cheerleader would find too girly. That and the fact that most women tend to accessorize to convey their own personality/interests, plus match the occasion, whereas trannies usually accessorize to convey a message of vanilla femininity decades out of style, and usually wear fashions at least two levels too fancy for wherever they are. I'm sorry, you do not wear an evening gown to the 7-11.

This struck me when I read it, and strikes me now re-reading it, as a basic bigoted set of assumptions about m-to-f transsexuals. I figured that if Kevin seriously thought his comments were accurate, he obviously had no idea how many m-to-f transsexuals he'd met in day to day life who didn't look anything like his description. (He also had clearly never listened to m-to-f transsexuals discussing the problem of convincing a psychiatrist who has very set ideas of what "measures womanhood" that they really are "living as a woman". I am told that turning up to an appointment wearing jeans and trainers can set a transwoman aspiring to get an operation back months...)

His further talk of how a m-f transsexual would be "presuming to privileges" if she demanded to be "treated like a lady" (which, as I recall, Kevin finally admitted that is an accolade he extends only to young attractive women he wants to have sex with and woman past the age of being attractive to him who have "paid their dues" by having/rearing children) made him sound more bigoted, rather than less.

I was also uncomfortable with his attitude that since to him a m-to-f transsexual who isn't successfully passing looks funny, it's okay to mock.

There are too many who would make exactly that choice (juvenile justice should, IMO, be given only (and always) to persons under the age of 18 -- and that's only one example of why this is a bad thing). Please tell me you don't really believe this.

Hmmm - well... In my country, we have a system called Children's Panels, where any juvenile offender (under the age of 16) is assessed by the panel on the basis of "Something is very wrong in this child's life - how can we help?" (Sometimes that "help" will include a period in a detention centre...) Notably, two things can be said of this system. One is that it's the kind of wishy-washy liberal thinking that's obviously bad and wrong - what these juvenile delinquents need is punishment, not understanding! But the second is that this system, if measured in terms of number of recividists, works far better than the English system of sending children before regular courts of law.

And I've wondered - off and on - whether this system would work for adult criminals too. It's hard to see why it wouldn't - there is no magic about age 16 that suddenly delinquents go from being children who need help to adults who need punishment.

If Michael Jackson were legally a child, he would (1) no longer have control of his own fortune - that would be passed to trustees whose job it would be to administer it on his behalf (2) have no right of custody or control of his own children - in fact, if he were to be treated as legally 11, he wouldn't even be allowed to babysit them unsupervised. (3) a court-appointed guardian in loco parentis would oversee his welfare, with the right to control where he lived, what he could access on the Internet, what medical treatment he was allowed to receive, what visitors he was allowed to have, what allowance he was allowed to receive, and so on - all the rights a parent expects to have over an 11-year-old child - including even the right to change his citizenship. In short, if Michael Jackson were to be treated permanently as if he were a child, the effect would be a personalised and luxurious house arrest, almost certainly depriving him of the ability ever to harm anyone again - no more sleepovers with 11-year-old boys if his guardian decided it was unwise (as any guardian worth their salt would), and no more unsupervised access to dangle his son upside down off a balcony.

But, as I said, I think it extremely unlikely that any adult - even Michael Jackson - would actually choose to render themselves so permanently powerless under the law. (He called himself "Peter Pan", not "Michael" or "John", after all.) And given that, no, I don't think that Michael Jackson or anyone else should just be allowed to say "I am a child" and therefore deserve access to juvenile justice systems - though with the point that if adult justice systems operated the way the children's justice system does in Scotland, we might all be better off.

Also, I think there's a big difference between respecting the decisions someone's made and pretending that they've successfully implemented those decisions.

I think a better analogy for a transsexual person in transition is not an 8-year-old child playing chess but someone who has been crippled all their life learning to walk.

You wouldn't mock someone saying proudly "I can walk now!" even if what they meant was not "I can go for a five mile hike anytime" but "I can take five steps, and my physiotherapist tells me that someday I will be able to take five hundred steps, and maybe in a year or ten I will be able to go for a five mile hike - I certainly aim to get there!" but "I can walk now!" is perfectly true, when what used to be truth was "My legs are paralysed, I'm stuck in this wheelchair, and if that's not a wheelchair-accessible toilet I'm going to have to ask you to get a couple of friends to carry me to it."

A transsexual early on in transition is probably not going to fool anyone. (Though there are exceptions even to this.) But at some point in transition, the changer has to start saying "I am the gender I choose to be", and has to start making that clear out loud, in public. (Name change is the usual way of doing this.)

By me, mocking someone early on in transition because they don't yet pass as successfully as they want to would be, yes, like mocking someone who had been shut in a box for all their childhood and who was learning how to walk late in life - so what if they're proud of tiny achievements?

I guess I'd rather be laughed at to my face than behind my back.

Depends who's laughing and why they're laughing.

#243 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 07:27 PM:

OT for the discussion, but I really literally just noticed the name thing with Michael Jackson.

If we take "Jack" as a synonym for "John".... John and Michael are the names of Wendy's two brothers who flew away with Wendy and Peter Pan to live in Neverland.

Got nothing to do with anything, probably. You'd need to have read the original J. M. Barrie novelisation of the panto (or to have been to see the pantomime itself) to know about the coincidence - as far as I remember, filmed versions have tended to eliminate Wendy's brothers. (But I await correction on this. I've never been a fan of Disney adaptations of perfectly good books.)

#244 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 07:44 PM:

Just noticed this:
With transitioning, while it may be a similar experience, I don't think it's the same experience. Regular teenagers don't take hormones until they're satisfied with their degree of chest hair or the size of their breasts. It's a lot more uncertain.

Buh? Who told you this is how it works?!

Sorry, I don't buy the "it's just a JOOOOOKE!" defense.

Meanwhile, I think if you're going to claim paranormal powers of trannie detection, that you might want to augment that with some understanding of actual processes undergone by people who go through SRS/GRS, and the psych evaluations and all the other hurdles.

#245 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 09:24 PM:

Xopher,

Does it count if you were beaten up for being a faggot even if you were never actually interested in that sexual practice? Because I can certainly speak to that, including the annoyance of not being able to come out of the closet because you were never in it in the first place.

Unfortunately, proving you're not gay is like proving you're not a witch--and on the witchcraft end, I was never in the broom closet, I had my Tarot cards and occult books right there in front of me in high school, and the worst that happened was that I alternately attracted and horrified every Born Again Christian in the school, one of whom mocked me, asking me to do a spell on his behalf. And when it worked superbly, he was in a moral quandary because witchcraft had been used on his behalf at his request.

I have, however, encountered tons of prejudice in my life because, while it may not be obvious from my name, I'm half German, first generation. Since Germany managed to piss-off and/or kill almost everybody's ancestors last century, Germans are considered fair game, and the message from the movies and television is that all obviously German characters must be Nazis, who are either evil or incompetent, frequently both. Actors with German names, like David Hasselhoff and John Schneider, must play characters with WASP names like Buchannon and Kent, and the only sympathetic obviously German character I've seen in any movie or tv show ever is Baroness Kessler in The Ninth Gate. And when the best role-model you can come up with is a crabby old lesbian book collector in a wheelchair, whose main redeeming feature is that she didn't join the satanists because she thought they were frivolous, I think it fair to say there's a lack of positive images out there.

But to your other questions.

Are you saying that GLAAD should be mocked for protesting it?

Advocacy groups exist to complain. Here are the possible responses they give:

1. Why are there no members of our group in your movie? By failing to include us, you are pretending that we do not exist, thus perpetuating [blah blah blah]. Even if you made a movie about a talking pig, we are upset that the talking pig was not portrayed as a member of our group--though if you had done that, we would be equally angry that you had portrayed one of us as a talking pig. (ie. Damned if you do/Damned if you don't.)
2. There were members of our group in your movie, but they were portrayed in an unsympathetic, stereotypical light. [Insert list here of every previous instance in film of this harmful stereotype, followed by world history of persecution of group.]
3. You included one supporting character in the movie who was a member of our group and was a paragon of all virtues. We applaud this, but ask why they weren't the focus of the film (despite the fact that stories about paragons of all virtues are pretty dull to watch).
4. You included a member of our group who was a paragon of all virtues, then killed them! You evil, evil people! How dare you! You've reinforced the hurtful idea that the [insert name] always dies (despite the literary device of wanting to kill the paragon of all virtues, for the dual purpose of upsetting all the other characters and the fact that it's easier for someone to stay a non-offensive saint once they're conveniently dead).

That's what advocacy groups do if you let them anywhere near film. And while I generally have better things to do with my nine bucks than watch Stephen Spielberg demonize my ancestors yet again, I'll be the first to admit it's hard to do a WWII movie without at least a couple Nazis, or a Holocaust picture without a few unsympathetic ones. Be nice if there were an obvious German on a Star Trek bridge, but I'm not going to hold my breath until this happens, or form an advocacy group to kick and scream until producers begin shoehorning German characters onto every show, whether or not they make any sense for the plot.

So yes, I'm glad Seanbaby mocked GLAAD for making Kevin Smith cry and give them $10,000 for daring to make a movie about two stoners who, like most stoners of my acquaintance, are somewhat-less than politically correct.

If you watched all of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, you'd note that it also made fun of homophobic people too. And while it is of course okay to mock homophobic people, as per Laura's rules of power-up mockery, it's rather hard to mock them for being homophobic without at least in someway inferring homosexual acts.

If so, I'd like to ask: are you as Irish as your name sounds?

My Irish goes on the father's-father's-father's-father's side, mixed with the rest of the British Isles and just enough Dutch and Cherokee for interest. However, the Celts and the Franks were close enough as tribes that most non-Irish folk can't spot the differences and I'm viewed as full-blooded by most people I talk to.

How do you react to WASP comedians making Mick jokes?

The only person making Mick jokes--specifically Pat and Mike jokes--these days is my grandfather, and I take it as part of my heritage. I trade them with my friend Kathy who picks up Ole and Lena jokes at the Sons of Norway.

If a WASP comedian could tell me a few more Pat and Mike jokes, I'd be grateful, because I only know a few.


#246 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2003, 10:08 PM:

Trinker,

It was a flip answer. What I should have said was, regular teenagers do not know what dosage of hormones nature is going to dish out. Some people do get more than others.

With "living as a woman," I'll repeat a comment I heard from one other woman: "What do you do? Pick someone else's kids up from daycare, then go home and clean the toilet?"

Yonmei's comment:

I am told that turning up to an appointment wearing jeans and trainers can set a transwoman aspiring to get an operation back months...

is interesting, and tells me more about the psych profile process than I think I'd get from reading the questionaire. I'm now suspecting that the overly femme wardrobes MtF transsexuals assemble aren't the result of their conception of what regular women wear but the remnant of the wardrobe assembled to convince the psychologist that they were sufficiently girly to warrant the operation.

There's also an interesting point in that the psychologists obviously have some criteria for assessing "male" and "female." If, as Yonmei believes, having a yardstick for measuring womanhood (and presumably manhood) is stupid, why is it considered necessary to dress girly (or butch) to qualify for GRS?

#247 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 12:54 AM:

Thanks, Kevin. And yes, getting beat up because they THINK you're a faggot does count. Except that it's not the same, because you weren't tormented with guilt, and partly feeling that maybe, just maybe you deserved what they were doing to you. But for the purpose I intended, good enough.

As for yardsticks and GRS, there's no conflict there. Different people. It's the psychiatrists who need to see people dressing up and acting girly, and Yonmei who said that having a yardstick was stupid. Without wanting to put words in Yonmei's mouth, I'd guess that she would probably think the psychiatrists are being stupid. I know I do.

Psychiatrists are notorious for not knowing the first fool thing about how actual people's actual minds work. Try to live your life in such a way as not to fall into their hands. That said, I do think it's necessary to have some kind of evaluation...but this is a very lightly-held belief on my part; I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. (And I'm sure there are competent psychiatrists out there. It's just that no one I've ever met has ever met one...)

Yonmei, I get that about the crippled person walking; certainly I wouldn't mock them. I guess I feel that being born and raised as a male permanently cripples the ability to be a woman. It's sad, rather than laughable, when someone tries and fails. I have nothing whatsoever against transexuals; I just don't think they're women (I refer to the MtFs, of course).

It was very brave of Jill Kinmont, after her accident, to tell the doctors "I'm gonna walk out of here!" And it was that determination that let her recover as well as she did -- but the fact is, she never walked again. If a trannie is trying to "pass," if you're a friend to her you should tell her where she's missing the boat. (You know: "Pretty dress, perfect hair, impeccable makeup, flawless nails. But sweetie, you have to stop swaggering like a sailor on liberty!" --and in private, of course.)

#248 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 02:25 AM:

Actually, with "Pretty dress, perfect hair, impeccable makeup, flawless nails" the usual problem is "Honey, look around you--do you see the rest of the women that dressed up for this particular setting?"

I don't believe a man's ability to play a woman, or woman's ability to play a man, is "crippled," so much as the fact that they don't have the easy fallback position of playing themselves.

Acting, writing, speaking a new language without a trace of accent--these are a matter of both talent and practice. I don't buy the "You'll never get it right" line of thinking, but likewise I do not buy the "Instant Mastery, in less than a year!" line either.

Speaking as the son of a foreign language teacher, sometimes people learning a new language say very funny things. I remember one party where a Vietnamese boy was sitting by himself quietly and I asked what he was doing. He responded, with a fairly good accent, "I am playing with myself."

I paused, but since his pants were zipped, I asked him to explain, and then told him, "Oh, you mean you were daydreaming." I then had to pantomime what the idiom "playing with myself" meant.

With learning to portray a gender, it's a matter of learning twenty odd years of gender-specific customs.

#249 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 03:26 AM:

I'm now suspecting that the overly femme wardrobes MtF transsexuals assemble aren't the result of their conception of what regular women wear but the remnant of the wardrobe assembled to convince the psychologist that they were sufficiently girly to warrant the operation.

Good heavens. This has just dawned on you?

No, I'm sorry for being sarcastic. I'm impressed that it has dawned on you.

I guess I feel that being born and raised as a male permanently cripples the ability to be a woman. It's sad, rather than laughable, when someone tries and fails.

And I am impressed that you've changed your mind on this one. "Sad rather than laughable" is a step up. One of these days, one of the m-t-f transsexuals you don't know you know may actually out themselves to you, and you'll figure out that m-to-f transsexuals are not permanent cripples, but recovering ones, and that their efforts are impressive, not sad. But "sad" is certainly an improvement on "mockable".

I don't believe a man's ability to play a woman, or woman's ability to play a man, is "crippled," so much as the fact that they don't have the easy fallback position of playing themselves.

Actually, it's far more straightforward than that. They need to figure out that they can simply be themselves. The fact that you can't figure this bit out is because of male privilege -

There's a quote in The Female Man that illustrates this:

"Educated women (I found out) were frigid; active women (I knew) were neurotic; women (we all knew) were timid, incapable, dependent, nurturing, passive, intuitive, emotional, unintelligent, obedient and beautiful. [...] Woman is the gateway to another world; Woman is the earth-mother; Woman is the eternal siren; Woman is purity; Woman is carnality; Woman has intuition; Woman is the life-force; Woman is selfless love. [...] (When I decided the key word in all this vomit was self-less and that if I was really all the things books, friends, parents, teachers, dates, movies, relatives, doctors, newspapers, and magazines said I was, then if I acted as I pleased without thinking of all these things I would be all these things in spite of my not trying to be all these things. So ---

"Christ, will you quit acting like a man!"

(Curiously enough, when I went looking for the exact text of the quote - being lazy, I had rather look it up on the Internet than spend five minutes finding the book and then twenty minutes distracting myself with the text while finding the quote - I found it here: cite - somebody else had already noticed the points it makes for m-to-f transsexuals.)

#250 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 04:10 AM:

Again, I'm sorry for replying so late, and for how long this is going to be. I wasn't able to get to the computer lab yesterday, and my time there was limited the day before, so I only checked my email.

Yonmei: If you go to pottery classes, make yourself a cup...
I just have to say, that was beautiful.

Kevin: thank you for answering, and I will address your response in this post, but the soup metaphor really got my attention, so I'm going to go with that.

Kevin wrote:
Sexuality is a complex business, and the idea of "passing" treads into the dangerous territory of feeding Jews and vegetarians pea soup, then saying "Surprise! You didn't know there was ham in it!" Or worse, denying that there is ham when they can see the bits.

I wasn't aware anyone was offering to feed you their pea soup. But yes, I think "if you're being invited to eat it" is one of the criteria for whether it's your business what someone has in their soup. And while nothing's stopping you from going around sticking your nose into people's
lunch and saying "Ew, ham!" or "That doesn't look like the authentic recipe," it's obnoxious. And not everyone has the same tastes as you - some people like it that highly spiced, and some people prefer fusion food.

I understand that you're arguing that some things are *so* far from pea soup that you just cannot call them pea soup, but people draw the line at such different points on that that I'm sure we won't be able to agree. There's a regional speciality in Adelaide called a "pie floater," for instance: pea soup with a meat pie and tomato sauce in it.

Also on culinary deceptions that shouldn't matter to anyone else, do you remember the character in To Kill A Mockingbird who was famously the town drunk, but, as Jem discovered, was only drinking cola in his paper bag? I guess if I was him, I wouldn't want to face "weren't you the town drunk?" and face all those questions about whether people can *really* stop being alcoholics, or whether I was just pretending to drink cola instead of my usual, and so on.

I'd try to carry the metaphor further, to explain what I think about your friend at the wedding, but it's getting tortured, so I'll stop it. You didn't think it was a secret. She did - or at least, she wanted to reserve the right to choose when to disclose it, and to whom. It's like being gay - and like being gay, some people are more obvious than they realise, and some people are exageratedly scared of coming out, but the dangers *are real*, and that's one good reason for not outing people without their permission.

and I wrote:
this is one example of what privilege is: being
reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

and you wrote:
I don't think I or anyone else ever said that transsexual's weren't real people. The question is whether anyone takes them seriously in their chosen gender.

so I'd like to expand a bit on what I meant by my comment. In the history of America, there were probably earnest debates between ordinary white people on whether Black people should or should not be 'allowed' to be equal. Many people believe that the Catholic Church once held a debate on whether women had souls or not. It's not true - the Church did no such thing - but if they had, that would be an example of what I meant by discussing whether someone's real people. If uninvolved people ("uninvolved" in the sense of being white, not black, or male, not female, or normally gendered, not trans) can debate with each other whether your identity in some area is or isn't valid, then that's what I mean by 'not real people,' and you're do not have that privilege in that domain. I hope that I'm being quite coherent here, but I'm not sure I am.

#251 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 11:02 AM:

Yonmei, it was I who said sad rather than laughable. Sad as in I weep for them who strive so hard and fail. Surgery is a heavy and drastic measure (not to mention painful). To do it, someone must want it so terribly, for reasons that I can understand intellectually but not resonate to emotionally; I thank the gods that my internal and physical genders match.

And the "crippling" I was talking about was following an analogy you made. I was speaking of Tannen effects (which are not universal even in nontrans people, admittedly). I do not believe it's entirely possible to break free of whatever Tannen gender behaviors you've acquired as a child. I'm making this broad statement because I'm willing to change my mind if I see evidence to the contrary.

I do have to agree with Kevin about the complexities of sexuality (but also with you on the outing question). A transexual dating someone would be doing them wrong not to tell them the truth fairly early in the relationship. This is especially true if the relationship is heterosexual (straight people being somewhat more likely to be squeamish about such things).

That doesn't give anyone else the right to rat them out; these conversations have to take place when the person is ready, and the exact reaction of the tellee is key to working it out. I used to HATE people who would out me to others (even though I was pretty out already). I wanted to be there when they found out, to see the subtle face change as the penny dropped.

These days I just assume everybody knows. I was hilariously mistaken about that recently; me and two male coworkers were having a fairly raunchy discussion about the bodily effects of various foods, and I said "I'll tell you one thing, if my date orders asparagus I'm going to say 'Sorry, pal, no blowjob tonight!'" One of the two coworkers hadn't known or even suspected until that moment. He was stunned, in fact. I was perversely gratified by this; I had assumed that I was an open book even to people without Kevin's discerning eye -- in fact, a book with a lavender and pink jacket.

#252 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 03:21 PM:

Yonmei, it was I who said sad rather than laughable.

Whoops. So it was. Sorry, I confounded two posts together.

#253 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 03:32 PM:

I wasn't aware anyone was offering to feed you their pea soup. But yes, I think "if you're being invited to eat it" is one of the criteria for whether it's your business what someone has in their soup. And while nothing's stopping you from going around sticking your nose into people's
lunch and saying "Ew, ham!" or "That doesn't look like the authentic recipe," it's obnoxious. And not everyone has the same tastes as you - some people like it that highly spiced, and some people prefer fusion food.

The trouble is that one of the most gender-linked of human behaviors is flirtation, which is the equivalent of the girl at the ren faire crying, "Come try my hot and sticky buns!" Or the waiter coming out at the end of the meal with the tantalizingly presented dessert cart.

Sticking your nose in someone's lunch is one thing. Smelling the wafting aroma of their soup is another, and having them say "Would you like some?" or holding up a tray of samples is a third. Then there are the folk who hold up a morsel and try to stuff it in your mouth, saying "It's delicious" and "Trust me" while you're turning your head and trying to ask whether it contains anything that you're allergic to or against your religion or moral code, and them saying "It's my secret recipe!" does not reassure.

There's a specific feminine flirtacious gesture where the woman quickly reaches out and touches the back of a man's hand with the tips of her three middle fingers. It's a quick invasion and retreat from personal space and you'd have to film it to fully describe the language of the gesture. The first time a girl who I was attracted to did it to me in high school, I was thrilled. When a trannsexual at a convention did it to me years later, I was decidedly unthrilled.

It's also polite to give people labels so they can avoid confusion. At one convention, the con suite buffet had bagels and various cream cheese spreads. One of these was cream cheese with bacon bits in it, mixed up by the chef who'd made the buffet, and an orthodox woman took to be bits of smoked salmon until she bit into it and threw a fit. Analogous to this is a situation I was told about last week where a guy went to a bar, got drunk, danced with and kissed three girls, got a blowjob from one, then ended up vomiting in the bushes once it was revealed they were pre-op transsexuals.

Now, on one end you can wonder what the problem is--a mouth is a mouth and meat bits are meat bits. On the other, everyone has their own definitions of the sacred and the profane and certain acts which are taboo.

Being polite is a two-way street. Providing plain markers and straight answers so that people can navigate within their own comfort levels is only good manners.

I'd try to carry the metaphor further, to explain what I think about your friend at the wedding, but it's getting tortured, so I'll stop it. You didn't think it was a secret. She did - or at least, she wanted to reserve the right to choose when to disclose it, and to whom. It's like being gay - and like being gay, some people are more obvious than they realise, and some people are exageratedly scared of coming out, but the dangers *are real*, and that's one good reason for not outing people without their permission.

Trouble is, she'd already told me, and had simply forgotten she'd told me. And she'd failed to send me a memo that she wanted me to act like it had never happened and that she'd always been female. And this was in a one-on-one conversation, not a group conversation, though it is conceivable someone could have overheard.

Is there a term in the communities for when someone outs themselves, then decides to go back in the closet? Or is it sort of a continual outing thing, where everyone's assumed to be in unless they're in the process of outing themselves? Because I've run into some people who say "How dare you assume I'm straight" and others who say "How dare you out me to those people" and if you try to please both, you'd have to run around thinking that everybody's gay and nobody's supposed to know, which is frankly nuts.

#254 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 05:06 PM:

"And if I ask, "Does this dress make me look fat?" I -mean- "Does this dress make me lool fat?" and expect a real, honest answer, which, for that matter, I would expect to be "yes" half of the time or more, because I wouldn't be asking if I didn't already have strong doubts. (Actually, I've never asked that, nor have I ever heard another woman ask that. But I've certainly asked, "Does this dress look good? Should I buy it?" which I suppose could be read as much the same thing, without the implication that all women are insecure in their bodies.)

Claire


To my, occaisional, regret, I tend to treat such questions as just that. A friend once commented that if she asked her SO about a dress, and he failed to tell her she, "looked like a pumpkin," in it, he wasn't getting any for weeks.

I took it to heart. Better to say the clothing is unflattering (though I did have one woman twist that, mostly in humor, into my saying dresses made her legs look thick; as a blanket effect, because she didn't like wearing dresses), than to let someone walk about looking, "like a pumpkin."

Terry K.

#255 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 05:42 PM:

so I'd like to expand a bit on what I meant by my comment. In the history of America, there were probably earnest debates between ordinary white people on whether Black people should or should not be 'allowed' to be equal. Many people believe that the Catholic Church once held a debate on whether women had souls or not. It's not true - the Church did no such thing - but if they had, that would be an example of what I meant by discussing whether someone's real people. If uninvolved people ("uninvolved" in the sense of being white, not black, or male, not female, or normally gendered, not trans) can debate with each other whether your identity in some area is or isn't valid, then that's what I mean by 'not real people,' and you're do not have that privilege in that domain. I hope that I'm being quite coherent here, but I'm not sure I am.

Actually, with the women and souls thing, I've read citations before, and just did a web search, turning this line up on a clergy website:

Paul of course was
teaching and writing in a milieu where Aristotle's notion of women
as incomplete males was commonly believed. Aquinas in the 13th
century codified this concept, and, more seriously, viewed women as
the source of sexual sin. Tertullian before him saw women as 'Eves'
- they were the 'devil's gateways' to bring sin into the world. The
debate - both in Judaism (which Dr. Porter does not mention) and in
Christianity as to whether women had souls (!) found expression as
late as 1588 where 'there is a recorded case of an English clergyman
in Essex seriously defending the proposition that women did not have
souls' (p.18).

here's the site

But with the whole "privilege" thing, and people debating whether or not you are "real people" (ie. one of them, their equal, privileged to speak), that goes on with everyone, not just white male "normally" gendered individuals. Heck, it's been going in this conversation. Xopher, as a gay man and speaking from a position of gay privilege, asked me, "Have you ever been beat up for being a faggot?" and I answered "Why yes. Yes I have. Does it still count if the gay bashers caught a witch instead of the fag they were looking for?" and he hemmed and hawed, pronouncing my street cred sufficient. Second-class to his, of course, but still sufficient.

Then there's Yonmei, saying (on behalf of all women everywhere) "We don't measure womanhood by the quality of our periods." Despite the fact that she cannot speak for all women, and some women do say things like "I'll take her seriously as a woman when she gets her period." Arguably it's a silly and stupid practice, but it does exist.

"Real people" is just another way of saying "one of us." Humans are clannish little monkeys, hugging to members of their group and howling at outsiders. If an outsider wants to be adopted by a group, they have to prove themselves, continually. It doesn't matter whether it's a majority or minority group, or whether it has any "power" (which is a silly distinction anyway, since every group has some power), there will always be "uninvolved" people discussing whether or not some outsider should be adopted as a member of the group.

Having the privilege of not having people whisper about you? Listen, everyone whispers about everyone. It's what the little monkeys do. And sometimes the things they whisper are even nice--usually just before the decide to relax the rules and adopt an outsider into the group.

#256 ::: eleanor rowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 05:55 PM:

I could respond to Kevin Andrew, but it would be pointless vitriol, so I shan't.

Vassilissa,

Re: To Kill a Mockingbird, I thought the point of the cola disguised as booze was that the guy never was a drunk, but that the only way he could live in his home town with the (black) woman he loved was to pretend to be unconventional; ie he bucked one set of rules rather than buck the harder set.

Corrections/other readings welcomed.


#257 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 06:29 PM:

Then there's Yonmei, saying (on behalf of all women everywhere) "We don't measure womanhood by the quality of our periods." Despite the fact that she cannot speak for all women, and some women do say things like "I'll take her seriously as a woman when she gets her period." Arguably it's a silly and stupid practice, but it does exist.

Good point. I should have said "I don't measure womenhood by the quality of our periods, and I don't take seriously anyone who claims to be able to do so, since it's a practical impossibility."

#258 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 08:32 PM:

Kevin, I would gently suggest a little more research on Aquinas in this case. The point of view that your source is stating is not Aquinas's, it is Aristotle's theory based on correctly identifying the role of semen in reproduction, but having no real knowledge of the role of the ovum. Aquinas was no better (or at least no more knowlegable) a biologist than Aristotle, but was a far better Christian theologian. (Not too surprising, that.) He posited that even if one accepted Aristotle's scientific views (which Aquinas generally did), one must deny it's application to the question of the status of women in God's creation, holding (in the specific section of the Summa that your source quotes) that in creating nature, God fully intended to create both male and female, and that both are fully neccessary and fully human. And he repeats that in other passages (in a wonderfully dense thicket of scholastic language, of course).

Note that I am not calling Aquinas any kind of a feminist and I am precisely the wrong person to come to if you want a spirited defense of the treatment of women over the span of Church history. But to say that the Church ever doubted that women had souls requires you to completely ignore the history of the Church; specifically the role of Mary and the hundreds of women considered saints from the earliest days. Giving them this status would make no sense at all if they were without souls; women would not have been considered moral actors and could not be held morally responsible for their decisions in any way -- and therefore could not be considered morally good or bad at all. Women could not be saints or devils -- the issue of salvation or dammnation would not come up at all. And that simply has never been the teaching of the Church, whether in the East or here in the West, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican or Protestant, notwithstanding that on occasion, it's representatives are cosmic loons.

#259 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 09:26 PM:

Is there a term in the communities for when someone outs themselves, then decides to go back in the closet? ... Because I've run into some people who say "How dare you assume I'm straight" and others who say "How dare you out me to those people" and if you try to please both, you'd have to run around thinking that everybody's gay and nobody's supposed to know, which is frankly nuts.

The comment made about such people is "Hir closet has a revolving door." And the right answer is not to make comments about people's gender history or sexual orientation. If you act, all the time, as if anyone you meet might be gay or might be straight, you can be just to all without knowing. Why would you need to know/need to comment? If you're talking about relationships, it's harder, but most gay people (well, ones my age anyway) can talk relationships for hours without ever using a gender-marked word; I don't see why this is so hard (well, it's a word game, so I'm biased).

But with the whole "privilege" thing, and people debating whether or not you are "real people" (ie. one of them, their equal, privileged to speak), that goes on with everyone, not just white male "normally" gendered individuals. Heck, it's been going in this conversation. Xopher, as a gay man and speaking from a position of gay privilege, asked me, "Have you ever been beat up for being a faggot?" and I answered "Why yes. Yes I have. Does it still count if the gay bashers caught a witch instead of the fag they were looking for?" and he hemmed and hawed, pronouncing my street cred sufficient. Second-class to his, of course, but still sufficient.

Now wait just a damn minute here! I've been nothing but polite and courteous to you in this entire conversation. I don't think I hemmed and hawed, I didn't pronounce judgement on your street cred, and I certainly didn't count you second-class anything. I said it wasn't the same. If two things are different, is one automatically better than the other? (Which is better, salt or pepper?) If you took this as an attack, I'm sorry, but I think you're being a little paranoid here.

And I'm a little pissed off that you're essentially accusing me of piling on, when in fact I have done no such thing. For example, I might think some of your assumptions are bigoted, but I haven't labeled you a bigot. I would be a hypocrite to do so, because I keep discovering that I have bigoted assumptions about one thing or another (not big important ones, thank the gods) and I certainly wouldn't label myself a bigot.

"Real people" is just another way of saying "one of us."

Only for the dominant group in society. Groups tend to have terms for outsiders ('cowan', for example), but to me that doesn't imply we consider them not real people. Most of my close friends are cowan. Most of my close friends, pagan or cowan, are straight. Most of my close friends, gay or straight, are not musicians. And so on. I've always valued diversity (bzzz! now it's a bullshit-bingo term, sigh), and been bewildered by people who take my comparison and contrast of e.g. their religion and mine as some kind of attack. I'm not saying we're better, just different. And people are so locked into Dominator assumptions that they can't see difference without assigning relative values.

Now that's nuts.

#260 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 09:41 PM:

You know what? Here's a metacomment for the whole thread.

Labeling people with nouns ('bigot') produces more heat than light. People get angry when you label them, and useful discussion is often obliterated. And it isn't fair to make someone angry on purpose just because they made you angry unintentionally. If they meant to, different story.

Above I said that I might think some of Kevin's assumptions are bigoted. I actually don't think they rise to that level, but even if I did, that's quite different from calling him a bigot, which is just namecalling.

Namecalling won't get someone to listen to you. Instead, they feel attacked and respond with salvos of their own.

So why are we doing this? Does each of us want to 'win' in some fashion? Or are we trying to actually change each other's opinions? (BTW I feel it's not discussing in good faith to try to change others' opinions without being at all open to changing your own...but I've always been like that, it annoys the hell out of people.)

If this is about Kim du Toilet (remember him? he was that jerk who...), and attendant stuff like transexuals and the ethics of outing etc., I'm up for that. If it's about who's still standing when everyone else has lost patience and stormed off...well, it won't be me, that's for sure.

#261 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2003, 11:21 PM:

Claude,

The quote was just one I turned up with a random web search, not one I was particularly defending. My point was saying that just because the Vatican has never supported a particular bit of whacked theology doesn't mean some small local priest or theologian hasn't.

I've read about the "women don't have souls" theological debate before and I don't think it's a myth, even if it was never an accepted part of church doctrine.

Xopher--

Apologies on the overstepping in my rush to make a point. If I can explain:

I don't think I hemmed and hawed,

An exaggeration. My bad.

I didn't pronounce judgement on your street cred,

You asked for it. That's the first step in passing judgement.

Had I said, "No, I've never experienced anything like that," the stock response would be "Then you are blinded by your privilege, and you will never understand what it is to be [blah, blah, blah]" thus insulting both my intelligence and my empathy.

The idea that people born into whatever the dominant position is (straight, white, rich, male, whatever) can never understand the other side of the coin is a truly pernicious thought, twinned with the idea that their lives are all honey and roses unless demonstrably proven otherwise.

and I certainly didn't count you second-class anything. I said it wasn't the same.

Is separate always equal? Is it just-as-good to sit at the kiddie table at Thankgiving?

If two things are different, is one automatically better than the other?

Is a star-bellied sneetch better than a plain-bellied sneetch?

And is a star-bellied sneetch better than a trans-star sneetch, who had a star added by Sylvester McMonkey McBean's machine, and has not yet comprehended the subtleties of the star-bellied sneetch wiener-roast ceremony?

This is the essence of what we're discussing here.

And if it doesn't matter what sort of belly you have, as per Dr. Seuss's moral, why are there so many sneetches going to Mr. McBean to treat their star-dysphoria? And why are their hang-ups about stars treated with sympathy while the sneetches with the original-star-bellied-only weiner-roast ceremonies viewed with scorn for their hang-ups about stars?

Which is better, salt or pepper?

It depends on your use. You do not want to any pepper in your contact solution.

I would say that they are different. But white pepper is not salt and black salt is not pepper.

If you took this as an attack, I'm sorry, but I think you're being a little paranoid here.

There've been a lot of attacks and it's hard not to get a beestung reaction after a while.

#262 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 02:23 AM:

Xopher wrote: Above I said that I might think some of Kevin's assumptions are bigoted. I actually don't think they rise to that level, but even if I did, that's quite different from calling him a bigot, which is just namecalling.

Well, I do think that a lot of Kevin's assumptions are bigoted - at least, a lot of those that he's displayed for us during the course of this thread.

But you have a point that saying "Kevin's assumptions are bigoted" is conversation: "Kevin's a bigot" is, at the very best, identification. (There's something of the twitcher in all of us.)

Kevin's first post in this conversation began with a list of bigoted assumptions about transsexual women, and continued with his assertion that despite his bigoted assumptions about ts women, he was good at identifying them. Which seems inherently impossible: if he's got this list of bigoted assumptions that he knows in advance transsexual women are going to fit into, then ts women (most of them) who don't fit into his bigoted assumptions are simply going to pass unnoticed.

And I think that combination of bigotry and arrogance about an ability that he doesn't possess was what was making me too angry to think straight. :-) So to speak. Howver, anger is not an excuse.

Kevin, I apologise to you for calling you a bigot.

#263 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 02:43 AM:

On that note, one item of special female-only slack: the ability to blame temporary bouts of unpleasantness on PMS and have this taken as a valid excuse.

That's it?! That's all you can come up with?!

I'm having to edit out a number of responses here out of respect for Teresa.

I suppose you've never been in a forum where someone utterly blew off the comments of a woman with, "I guess she's getting a visit from her aunt Flo!" I suppose you've never heard jokes like, "We could never elect a woman president-- once a month she'd go on the rag and nuke the Russians!" I suppose it doesn't bother you that an entire half of humanity gets damned because a small percentage of them suffer noticeable personality changes due to uncontrollable hormonal swings.

I imagine you'd be equally quick to complain about "special schizophrenic slack"... After all, they can blame any of their actions on their biology!

It's also a hallmark of PC-fascism to call anyone who disagrees with you a bigot.

How 'bout this? "Your opinions are those of a bigot."

As I think I've established, being subjected to honest, unflattering opinions is not "enjoyable," but I find it preferable to sycophants blowing colored smoke up my ass.

But when people who prefer a more genteel style of discourse actually go so far as to state to you that they don't want to be treated your way, that they want to be treated as a lady, you instead treat them how you please regardless, because you're assured that you know what's best for them/humanity as a whole, right?

#264 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:09 AM:

Had I said, "No, I've never experienced anything like that," the stock response would be "Then you are blinded by your privilege, and you will never understand what it is to be [blah, blah, blah]" thus insulting both my intelligence and my empathy.

Here's what I actually said on the No branch of that If:

If not, I'd respectfully submit that you don't know how it feels, and should admit that and refrain from comment. Otherwise we'll mock you!

My question to you is: do you honestly think these two things are equivalent? Or are you just ascribing a stock response to me, even though you know I said something different? Key difference: not knowing how something feels isn't necessarily because of being blinded by privilege.

You can understand intellectually, and make analogic/empathic conjectures about how it feels, but you won't really know for sure, any more than I'll know what it feels like to be transgendered.

I wish you'd stop acting like I'm attacking you. There have been some attacks, but none of them came from me. This is not a coincidence.

#265 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:32 AM:

Xopher, do you mean that asparagus makes semen smell funny too? I thought it was just pee.

One more reason to be glad I'm a lesbian.

#266 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:12 AM:

Kevin wrote:
Then there are the folk who hold up a morsel and try to stuff it in your mouth,

If someone tried to stuff it into my mouth before I'd consented to taste it, I'd consider going to the police.

The first time a girl who I was attracted to did it to me in high school, I was thrilled. When a trannsexual at a convention did it to me years later, I was decidedly unthrilled.

If anyone I wasn't attracted to did it to me, I'd be bloody furious. Heck, I'm cagey enough about touching even when it *isn't* flirtatious touching.

At one convention, the con suite buffet had bagels and various cream cheese spreads. One of these was cream cheese with bacon bits in it, mixed up by the chef who'd made the buffet, and an orthodox woman took to be bits of smoked salmon until she bit into it and threw a fit.

I suspect you mean an observant Jewish woman. All the *orthodox* Jews I know would take care to ask first, same as I'd ask if something was vegan, and double-check to make sure they knew what that meant as far as I'm concerned. Strict vegans and people who keep strict kosher tend to assume it *won't* be OK to eat, not that it will. That's why I'm guessing that you mean someone who kept kosher in a mild, everyday way, but not enough that they're reminded at every meal that other people don't operate on the same set of dietary assumptions as they do. That's a form of privilege in action, by the way.

Being polite is a two-way street. Providing plain markers and straight answers so that people can navigate within their own comfort levels is only good manners.

There are levels here. Is it important to you to know if something fits your dietary requirements before you can admire the smell or congratulate
the cook? To me, unless it actually involved my digestive system, I wouldn't consider it my business, which is one reason I don't go around telling people to become a vegan, even though I may have private opinions about the ethics of meat.

And she'd failed to send me a memo that she wanted me to act like it had never happened and that she'd always been female.

What you said she said was "Real subtle." Unless there's more you haven't mentioned, to me that sounds like she wanted you not to mention the keywords 'sex change' in a public place, (let's face it, they are an attention-grabber) not like she explicitly asked your assistance in fabricating a backstory.

Or is it sort of a continual outing thing, where everyone's assumed to be in unless they're in the process of outing themselves? Because I've run into some people who say "How dare you assume I'm straight" and others who say "How dare you out me to those people"

Ideally, no one would assume people were straight *or* gay - 'straight' wouldn't be the default, inoffensive assumption, 'gay' wouldn't be an inference that could get you hit in the face if you were wrong, and you could just ask people. As it is, people will still try to challenge the assumption that everyone's straight until proven gay, and yet reserve the right to judge for themselves whether it's safe (physically, emotionally) to admit to a given person that they are gay (or bi). It doesn't mean lying and asking gay men how their wives are, just not being the first to bring it up when you're around people they might not be out to.

#267 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:16 AM:

Eleanor:
I'm sure you're right. Thank you. I had no idea. I last read the book nine years ago, in school.

#268 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:55 AM:

Yonmei,

Apology accepted. Thank you. I'll retract my "bigot" and "hipocrite" comments to you and Alan.

As Xopher said, we should be making light, not heat.

Xopher,

Apologies. The "blinded by privilege" was Yonmei's, not yours. Specifically:

Actually, it's far more straightforward than that. They need to figure out that they can simply be themselves. The fact that you can't figure this bit out is because of male privilege -

Again, and insult to my intelligence or my empathy, but not from you.

But, with the comment:

If not, I'd respectfully submit that you don't know how it feels, and should admit that and refrain from comment.

Aside from this being a way to tell people to be quiet, with the "knowing how it feels," I had to prove my bonafides, confirming that we had both had the same experience of being beat up by people yelling "Fag!" The only difference is that you internally had the mental anguish of wondering whether you had brought this on yourself and in some way deserved it, whereas I had the mental anguish of beaten for something I didn't do, and more than that, any protests that I didn't think it was something wrong to begin with would be taken as an admission of guilt.

But something Yonmei said about the foolishness of measuring pain... Why do we even have to compare it? Everyone's is different, and while some have suffered more than others, everyone knows suffering.

Madeline,

You are completely free to mention other forms of special female-only slack. I only mentioned the PMS one because I once lived in a house with a woman who did get wild mood swings and ran through the house snarling "Out of my way! I'm PMS-ing!" Then there's my sister, who didn't get PMS, but used to get cramps so severe she was left pale and shaking, and those often touched off migraines--and people in agony are generally not pleasant to be around either.

__________________________________________________-

All,

With the original comments that so set Yonmei off, the main complaint was that they were stereotypes.

Unfortunately, to quote Seanbaby: People who cry about stereotypes are usually upset because they fall into them. We don't have time to get to know every single person we see. . . . If we didn't have stereotypes, we'd be doing stupid shit like walking up to bikers and asking who won today's tennis match.

As I commented and Yonmei responded:

I'm now suspecting that the overly femme wardrobes MtF transsexuals assemble aren't the result of their conception of what regular women wear but the remnant of the wardrobe assembled to convince the psychologist that they were sufficiently girly to warrant the operation.

Good heavens. This has just dawned on you?

No, I'm sorry for being sarcastic. I'm impressed that it has dawned on you.

Now, aside from Yonmei being impressed by my realization of the origin of the girly wardrobes, I believe she's also agreeing as to the existence of the girly wardrobes.

Here's the relevant portion of my original (stereotyped) post: Even the most convincing tend to raise the "What's up with her?" flags, usually by dressing in a kittenish outfit that even a midwestern cheerleader would find too girly. That and the fact that most women tend to accessorize to convey their own personality/interests, plus match the occasion, whereas trannies usually accessorize to convey a message of vanilla femininity decades out of style, and usually wear fashions at least two levels too fancy for wherever they are. I'm sorry, you do not wear an evening gown to the 7-11.

Now, while that is likely ruder than fits many comfort levels, it fits with the fact that Yonmei reported that people wanting GRS have to dress in such overly femme outfits to get their psychologist to sign off on the surgery, and catty Mr. Blackwell comments don't change the fact.

#269 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:21 AM:

Now, aside from Yonmei being impressed by my realization of the origin of the girly wardrobes, I believe she's also agreeing as to the existence of the girly wardrobes.

Sure. Some ts women wear girly stuff all the time in their transition phase, some reserve it solely for visits to their psychiatrist. (I think this is demarcated by degree of paranoia more than anything else.) What made you look bigoted is your presumption that the girly wardrobes are an inherent part of being a ts women: it's entirely possible that this was merely a degree of ignorance astounding in one who claims to have two ts acquaintances. Ignorance and bigotry have very similar faces, especially when ignorance is combined with arrogance.

Now, while that is likely ruder than fits many comfort levels

And when unapologetic rudeness is combined with ignorance and arrogance, the resemblance to a bigot is astoundingly close.

Kevin, one good rule in any human interaction: if you want people to be polite to you, you should be polite yourself. Perhaps you should consider this next time you think of sharing your bigoted opinions with the world.

#270 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 08:15 AM:

It's been said that there's no issue so complex that it can't be boiled down into a bumper sticker. So let me take a whack at this whole transexual argument:

TRANSEXUALITY: YOUR MASCULINITY MAY VARY

or, for the pickup-driving crowd:

TRANSEXUALITY: YOUR MANHOOD MAY VARY

I think I'll go play with chainsaws now....

#271 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 10:32 AM:

Xopher, do you mean that asparagus makes semen smell funny too? I thought it was just pee.

And taste horrible. But the icky smell and taste comes up well prior to the presentation of semen as such.

Is there no such effect on female bodily fluids?

The only difference is that you internally had the mental anguish of wondering whether you had brought this on yourself and in some way deserved it, whereas I had the mental anguish of beaten for something I didn't do, and more than that, any protests that I didn't think it was something wrong to begin with would be taken as an admission of guilt.

But something Yonmei said about the foolishness of measuring pain... Why do we even have to compare it? Everyone's is different, and while some have suffered more than others, everyone knows suffering.

I entirely agree, with both paragraphs. Different, not better or worse. And remember, my admonition to "refrain from comment" was under the condition that you had never experienced any such thing. You have; your comments are a valuable perspective. BTW, you WERE a "faggot" in the sense these fuggheads use it: it means 'male who doesn't beat up gays'!

And pain cannot be compared across people. Recent studies show that social rejection produces the same effects in the brain as physical pain. Since all our experience occurs in the brain, that means that experientially they are the same. (Of course, dealing with the physical damage that caused the physical pain is another story.) To my mind, this means people with e.g. Social Anxiety Disorder should be treated the same as people in chronic physical pain.

Bruce: "Mom, where do we keep our chainsaws?" "We don't have any chainsaws, Calvin." "We don't? Not any?" "Not any." "Then how am I supposed to learn to juggle?"

#272 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 01:59 PM:

Asparagus alters both men's and women's secretions, urinary and sexual.

I'm looking at that "throwing up/violent reaction on discovery" bit, and seeing a disquieting similarity to certain sorts of racist reactions to "passing".

Now, I don't hold with the "hide it until the last minute" game, nor the deliberate maliciousness of concealing information you know will be traumatic on revelation. But "eeeew, I got touched by a trannie!" reaction...how is that different than "eeeew, I got touched by a..." anything else? My general reaction to unwanted touch is that it's touch that I don't want, regardless of the toucher's characteristics.

#273 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 02:20 PM:

What made you look bigoted is your presumption that the girly wardrobes are an inherent part of being a ts women:

Inherent? I never said inherent, and I think its something you're reading in based on your anger, as with the "all" and "always" I never said either.

However, the concept I was trying to convey was "common" or "exceedingly common" among ts women.

The trouble with "hurtful stereotypes" is that they're seldom also "untrue." Untrue stereotypes would to be talking about those hook-nosed Japanese, nappy-haired Swedes, and Eskimos with their red hair and freckles sitting on the back porch eating watermelon and waving their hands like Christopher Lowell. Match the stereotypes up with the people they've been used to charicature, however, you'll find varying levels of accuracy, ranging from "a fair number" to "all." (Excepting the watermelon, which is a relic of a certain time and place when there was more poverty and less air conditioning.)

one good rule in any human interaction: if you want people to be polite to you, you should be polite yourself.

Unfortunately, "polite" seldom meshes with "truthful" or "funny," and I'd rather have people honest and making me laugh than nervously not talking about the elephant in the corner.

Consider, oh, say, leprosy. Leprosy is a horrible disease that makes your skin rot off. There's no polite way to say this, aside from medicalese. There are also all sorts of leper jokes, many of which are probably started by the patients and hospital staff, which I won't mention here. It would likely be viewed as bigoted, despite the fact that everyone on the planet has eminently practical reasons for treating lepers like, well, lepers.

Are we all bigoted because we don't want to associate with lepers? And how is making jokes more hurtful than quietly shunning them and hoping they go away, or drowning them in sympathy by treating them like poor little crippled children? Transsexuals as Tiny Tim? How patronizing can you get?

Part of acknowledging people's existence is being honest with them. If transsexuals want to be taken seriously in their chosen genders, they need to dispense with the Kabuki act they adopted to impress their psychologists and pay attention to what women and men outside the TG/TS community are doing and wearing. From what I've seen, the TG/TS community bears about as much resemblance to the outside world as The Mikado does to Japan.

#274 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:29 PM:

Unfortunately, "polite" seldom meshes with "truthful" or "funny," and I'd rather have people honest and making me laugh than nervously not talking about the elephant in the corner.

Well, the elephant in this corner is your bigotry. Got an answer for why you object so strongly (indeed, so ferociously) to people doing what you say you'd prefer - being honest with you?

You can't complain that it's rude: you've already made it clear that when it comes to talking about other people, you'd rather speak rudely of them then be politely silent. What's your objection when this strategy is turned on you?

#275 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:42 PM:

A very irrelevant nitpick - Leprosy is a very very minor thing these days, thanks to a little thing called penicillin (At least, in the first world it is). I know someone who suffered briefly from it - the lasting effect was a single very small numb patch on one arm - less than the size of a quarter. He's quite happy and quite safe to be hugged.

Definitions. Kevin, you're annoyed when someone asks to be treated like a Lady, because they don't fit a stringent definition of your own devising, *even though* you appear fully aware that there are other defintions out there. One, for instance, that isn't partly dependant on whether a person is physically attractive (A plain but well-dressed and gracious young woman can't be counted a lady?).

You ask us for a definition of how we define female (We being anyone in this conversation, but particularly actual born-as-females who've chosen to stay that way), as if there is a single one. Some include Transgendered - some do not. Some begin with puberty - but few or none end with menopause, so menstruation is not an issue. MZB, however, is known to many to have been a strident, opinionated, and sometimes unwarrantedly vicious woman. I try to only fit three parts of that definition at my worst, and skip on "unwarrantedly vicious".

When you say mock, do you mean mock, or joke? To me mockery is joking combined with a certain level of malice and deliberate down-putting. One can joke about one's ethnic origins without the taint of malice. One can make light of one's own sexuality, or the stereotypes one fits - or does not fit - without the taint of malice. But: there's a big difference between me saying of myself, "Boy, did I just do something stupid," a good friend laughing and saying, "Boy, did you just do something stupid," and a distant acquaintance piping up with, "Isn't she stupid?" and laughing down his/her nose.

I'm asking for legitimate clarification.

A general note: I have not met enough people I have known to be transgendered to make any blanket statements, or any assumptions. Therefore, I have made none. I do not assume they fit the stereotypes (Though, NB, the worst stereotypes so far listed fit better with some of the transvestites I have met than with those attitudes I've heard attributed to those actually interested in changing their gender).

This is part of the reason why my only questions to Kevin have had to do with side issues. Not because I agree, but because I'm more interested in seeing the various perspectives than offering a noticeably less experienced point of view.

But there is this: Human is human. I'm all for joking and not taking things too seriously. I'm all against mockery. It makes people bleed internally.

#276 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 03:42 PM:

Now, I don't hold with the "hide it until the last minute" game, nor the deliberate maliciousness of concealing information you know will be traumatic on revelation. But "eeeew, I got touched by a trannie!" reaction...how is that different than "eeeew, I got touched by a..." anything else? My general reaction to unwanted touch is that it's touch that I don't want, regardless of the toucher's characteristics.

The toucher's characteristics have a lot to do with whether you want it: sex, age, race, religion, health, general attractiveness.

In my case, the trannie was old enough to be my mother: double-eww!

Not wanting to sleep with a trannie is a prejudice, certainly, just as not wanting to sleep with a man is also a prejudice, but fact is, I don't go around fantasizing about Angela Lansbury either. Unless it's Angela Lansbury from the fifties and sixties. 1970s Farah? Mmmmmm.... Current-day Farah? Eww....

Prejudice means to judge something beforehand. Deciding not to sleep with this list of people, not eat this list of things, usually for religious or philosophical reasons, occasionally for aesthetic ones.

I've wondered, what's the Orthodox Jewish reading of "Green Eggs and Ham"?

Would you like a bit of treyf?
Try it! Try it! It is safe!

What I find more troubling than the I will not sleep with X or Y/I will not fuck them. Die, Sam! Die! prejudice is the "Okay for fun, but you wouldn't want your daughter to marry one of them" scenario, the type of person who thinks some type of person make dandy hookers and one-night stands, but would never in a million years introduce them to his friends or walk down the aisle with one.

This I find far more dehumanizing than someone puking because they had someone violate one of their personal taboos.

#277 ::: cija ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:08 PM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


a guy went to a bar, got drunk, danced with and kissed three girls, got a blowjob from one, then ended up vomiting in the bushes once it was revealed they were pre-op transsexuals.

and: ...someone puking because they had someone violate one of their personal taboos.


In my world, when you get sloppy drunk and make out with strangers, you don't get to complain that they 'violated' one of your personal taboos because you failed to ascertain whether they had dyed hair, unshaven legs, a penis, or a mastectomy scar before you put your genitals in their mouth.

If one is so fragile and pathetic a human being as to risk vomiting when one of these horrors is revealed, perhaps one should learn to ask about them before having sex, just as people with rare, potentially fatal allergies have to check the content of anything they eat. Of course, it's harder to take responsibility for one's own personal problems than to blame others for not catering to them. Still, it's the adult thing to do.

For instance, if I found out at a later date that I'd slept with a transphobic jerk, I might end up puking in the bushes, too. But I'd have no one to blame but myself.

#278 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:18 PM:

Well, the elephant in this corner is your bigotry. Got an answer for why you object so strongly (indeed, so ferociously) to people doing what you say you'd prefer - being honest with you?

You can't complain that it's rude: you've already made it clear that when it comes to talking about other people, you'd rather speak rudely of them then be politely silent. What's your objection when this strategy is turned on you?

My objection is that in your tone there is no mocking, no joshing, only cold anger, fury, and no small trace of venom. As Xopher pointed out, words like "bigot" produce far more heat than light. They are intended to hurt and to wound, not to persuade. I could come up with a whole string of unkind words for you and your behavior, but I will refrain because they would again produce only heat, not light. Instead, I'll offer this: You are the personification of the Feminist Lightbulb Joke. *

The point of mockery is not to hurt and to wound--though it can occasionally do that--but to hold up a twisted mirror to a person, showing them how ridiculous they appear and allowing them to correct those deficiencies. And they are deficiencies: the proud, the pompous, the foolish, the deluded, the vain, the arrogant.

You accuse me of arrogance, but all you can do is spit venom at me. Since when has that ever persuaded anyone?

*["How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?" "THAT'S NOT FUNNY!!!"]

#279 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 04:31 PM:

On that note:

How many transsexuals does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one. But it will be a long, slow, painful process, and few will be able to accept the new bulb as being the lightbulb that was really there all along.

#280 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:13 PM:

Kevin -

If you're really pissing people off, you're really pissing people off. It's not that they're failing to effectively present concern for your welfare.

You've got an axiomatic normative case running all through this thing; that's much of what people are objecting to, that you get to name "normal".

#281 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:22 PM:

The trouble with "hurtful stereotypes" is that they're seldom also "untrue."

The trouble with stereotypical characterizatons is that they result in characatures rather than increased understanding or knowledge.

Unfortunately, "polite" seldom meshes with "truthful" or "funny,"

This has not been my experience. The essence of polite behaviour is respect for others, and in no way is that incompatible with truthfulness. Every worthwhile relationship I've ever had, and have now, requires both from me.

Consider, oh, say, leprosy. Leprosy is a horrible disease that makes your skin rot off. There's no polite way to say this, aside from medicalese.

Not only are there more polite ways, but it turns out they're more accurate, too. This is just one:

A chronic bacterial disease affecting mainly skin and nerves. If untreated, there can be progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes

(google; "define:leprosy")

There are also all sorts of leper jokes, many of which are probably started by the patients and hospital staff, which I won't mention here.

Unfounded assumption.

It would likely be viewed as bigoted, despite the fact that everyone on the planet has eminently practical reasons for treating lepers like, well, lepers.

No, they don't. Newsflash from July, 1996, Southern Medical Journal, Hansen's Disease:
"The term "leper"is almost synonymous with outcast, reflecting the historical fear of contagion associated with this disease. However, the risk of infection to a person in casual contact with an infected patient is minimal. In endemic areas, household contacts of patients with the tuberculoid form of the disease are at no higher risk of acquiring leprosy than the population at large."

If transsexuals want to be taken seriously in their chosen genders, they need to dispense with the Kabuki act they adopted to impress their psychologists and pay attention to what women and men outside the TG/TS community are doing and wearing.

Taken seriously by whom? They don't have to do a thing so far as I'm concerned. I don't demand that others conform to my preconceived definitions. I would much rather recast my definitions to suit observed reality.

#282 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:36 PM:

Graydon: I'm sure Kevin will have several tortured analogies and a couple of anecdotes from his own rich experience with which to prove to you that you are wrong. He'll post them in just a minute, along with an aggrieved remark about personal attacks.

Kevin, pray continue in your principled refusal to be silenced by majority opinion regardless of where the weight of evidence and coherent argument may lie. I have begun to think of you as a performance artist, and am enjoying the show.

#283 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 05:55 PM:

KAM wrote: My objection is that in your tone there is no mocking, no joshing, only cold anger, fury, and no small trace of venom.

True. I have met too many people with bigoted opinions to find them particularly amusing. When bigotry combines with arrogance and ignorance, as it does in your case, I am not in the least amused. Perhaps it would be better for my soul if I treated you as Elim Garak did the Klingons ("Way of the warrior), which would be kind of appropriate, but I never laid claim to be a Garak.

(BTW - when you paste in two paragraphs of quote into a blog, Kevin, in order to italicise them both you need to put the italic codes round each paragraph separately. If you do what usually works with HTML and put the codes at the beginning of the first paragraph and the ending of the second paragraph, what you get is an unitalicised second paragraph. This can be confusing for people attempting to follow an argument on a long thread. Here endeth the technical writer moment.)

The point of mockery is not to hurt and to wound--though it can occasionally do that--but to hold up a twisted mirror to a person, showing them how ridiculous they appear and allowing them to correct those deficiencies. And they are deficiencies: the proud, the pompous, the foolish, the deluded, the vain, the arrogant.

Indeed. So you would not object to being mocked about being proud, pompous, foolish, deluded, vain, and arrogant - you merely object to being told, humourlessly, that you are all of the above? Thank you for clarifying that.

You accuse me of arrogance, but all you can do is spit venom at me. Since when has that ever persuaded anyone?

*grin* But Kevin, I don't need to persuade you that you're arrogant. I just need to set you up so that you prove to other people that you're a pompous, bigoted ass. And I think you have amply done so...

#284 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:29 PM:

Graydon,

You've got an axiomatic normative case running all through this thing; that's much of what people are objecting to, that you get to name "normal".

The point is, everyone gets to name "normal." Normal, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and is usually relative to the self. You're normal; everyone else is weird. Very few people take pride in being a freak, and when they do, they glory in being odd in this one particular thing, their ability to "freak the mundanes," yet sometimes get freaked themselves when someone else views the odd thing as normal and mundane.

The final arbiter of normal is the self. You can decide something is not normal for various reasons--religious, moral, the plain old "ick" factor--and while a tolerant person allows others to decide for themselves what is normal, tolerance does not mean you have to agree with whoever you're around.


Sennoma:

Graydon: I'm sure Kevin will have several tortured analogies and a couple of anecdotes from his own rich experience with which to prove to you that you are wrong. He'll post them in just a minute, along with an aggrieved remark about personal attacks.

Kevin, pray continue in your principled refusal to be silenced by majority opinion regardless of where the weight of evidence and coherent argument may lie. I have begun to think of you as a performance artist, and am enjoying the show.

Your first mockery. Bravo.


Pericat,

The trouble with stereotypical characterizatons is that they result in characatures rather than increased understanding or knowledge.

Treatises aren't funny. Editorial cartoons often are, and can make a point far more sharply than a treatise.

They can be read faster too.

You need more than just a stereotype to be funny, however.

Taken seriously by whom? They don't have to do a thing so far as I'm concerned. I don't demand that others conform to my preconceived definitions. I would much rather recast my definitions to suit observed reality.

Then you must have a really interesting time when you go to Disneyland.

But seriously, from my observations, I view TG/TS as more of its own sex, rather than indistinguishable from or a subset of M/F sex. The same as I view homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality as subsets of human sexuality.

#285 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:37 PM:

Yonmei,

*grin* But Kevin, I don't need to persuade you that you're arrogant. I just need to set you up so that you prove to other people that you're a pompous, bigoted ass. And I think you have amply done so...

And you're a self-congratulatory venemous shrew.

And so we end with heat instead of light.

Well done.

#286 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:50 PM:

I tried. I really did.

I'd throw up my hands, but I find that painful, as the thumbs get stuck in my throat.

[walks off muttering]

#287 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 07:56 PM:

And you're a self-congratulatory venemous shrew.

Actually, my formal title in slash fandom is "One of Three Venoms". ;-)

And so we end with heat instead of light.

Evidently you can dish it out but you can't take it.

#288 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2003, 10:20 PM:

Kevin --

All normal is indeed relative to expectations.

That's not the difficulty in your presentation; the difficulty is that you're treating your relative value of normal as necessarily correct.

This conveys -- at best -- to your interlocutors whom may use different constructions of normal that you believe them not to exist.

Politeness starts, not with correction, but with recognizing that other people are as important to them as you are to you.

#289 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 12:23 AM:

What I don't understand is this: Why are you people* still engaging with Kevin Murphy? You aren't going to convince him, and he's not going to change his ways. It's like the old saw about mud-wrestling with a pig: you only get covered with mud, and besides, the pig enjoys it.

-----
*Yes, I know, "you people".

#290 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 01:29 AM:

Kevin, what you said earlier about a trans woman hitting on you has been bugging me, and I finally figured out why. See, I couldn't, for the life of me, on first, second, third readings, work out why you were so outraged. I knew you were disturbed by it, and more to the point, I thought there was no reason why you shouldn't have been disturbed. What I couldn't work out is, why you didn't just deal with it and move on?

From the time she hits puberty to the time she hits what I'll term "grand dame" status, a woman has to fend off advances from unsuitable persons several times a week. I am several years older than you, if I read your earlier posts correctly, and I am only now experiencing the complete freedom of movement and of voice that comes when one is not an object of intense amorous focus from all and sundry. I can walk down the street and construction workers ignore me. I can go into any pub alone, order a drink, and consume it in peace. I can go home to see my mother in the army base where she lives, and not have lads in undress greens cluttering up my view. The last guy to hit on me on the street was a near-sighted homeless rake.

It's very relaxing. Especially compared to my teens and twenties. Fending off unwelcome attentions was something I learned to do without thinking, but with care and attention for the feelings of the one making the offer. Frankly, it's safer that way. Some of those fellows can get kind of, you know, violent.

I kept thinking today, what is he making such a fuss about? And then I realized that I was expecting you, simultaneously, to react as a woman would to an unwanted attention, that is, to deal, but at the same time being unsurprised by your outrage.

Maybe that's the definition of "special straight-male-only slack," that when a straight man is hit on by an unsuitable person, he gets to bellow, and maybe vomit in the bushes, and otherwise express his revulsion in whatever manner he feels entirely encompasses his distaste.

But I still think that, if sensitive straight guys knew that it is perfectly okay to discard a potential sexual partner based on nothing more than how she flutters her eyelashes, let alone where she gets her daily infusions of estrogen, that they might feel less need to come up with convoluted reasons for their feelings and better able to, well, deal. And then move on.

IOW, that trans woman that touched you flirtatiously? You don't have to like it. Or put up with it. If you want to spare her feelings, there's ways of reacting that will do just that. If you want to do the outraged bull elephant thing instead, that's okay, too. The floor's yours, as always. You da Man.

#291 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 07:08 AM:

Oh, not a pig, Alan.

#292 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2003, 09:04 AM:

A bit upthread, Kevin wrote

and I certainly didn't count you second-class anything. I said it wasn't the same.

Is separate always equal? Is it just-as-good to sit at the kiddie table at Thankgiving?

If two things are different, is one automatically better than the other?

Is a star-bellied sneetch better than a plain-bellied sneetch?


(Italics for what he was quoting)

Which way do you want it, Kevin? You've told us that labeling/sorting people by gender is absolutely essential to your view of the world, and now you're objecting to dividing people into groups, because one or the other must be the 'inferior' kiddie table.

Do you still wonder why people aren't accepting the idea that they have to sit at the "women's table," or at the special "transsexual table," when they want to be at the boardroom table, or the blackjack table, or the nice buffet table with all the interesting smoked fish instead of eating leftovers.

Can I assume that, in your model, transsexuals are inferior to born women?

#293 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2003, 09:10 PM:

Whew! I'm having difficulty keeping up with this discussion.

Kevin -

With the "Judge not lest ye be judged/People who live in glass houses..." business, I find it tiresome, and frankly kind of wimpy. It's "Shut up, or you might be the victim of gossip."

Well, certainly gossip is a vice, one I indulge in far too often and chastise myself about.

If your point is that many transsexuals look ridiculous, my response is that this is not limited to transsexuals ... I think most people look ridiculous in one way or another. And some of the most ridiculous-looking people can also be some of the best people. I think we are in agreement on that, actually -- including transsexuals. You say that some of your friends are transsexuals, and I can't imagine being friends with someone who I didn't admire.

With the PC point, a common opinion from general society may still be a minority opinion in a smaller community, and indeed, in smaller communities, the PC opinion may become the majority opinion. It's also a hallmark of PC-fascism to call anyone who disagrees with you a bigot.

But I'll venture to say that problems of a person like yourself, who is somewhat intolerant of transsexualism in the freethinking culture of Silicon Valley, are trivial compared with the intolerance faced by actual GLBT people in the real world. I mean, you have to put up with people calling you names, which is annoying, but you are not denied the right to marry, and you do not face the risk of being beaten or killed for your sexual preference.

Tolerance should of course mean, in the pure sense, that you tolerate people, but my point was that once you tolerate them, the more fervent will insist that you AGREE with them too.

Yep, that's true. Doesn't mean you shouldn't be tolerant though.

With "man," my definition is pretty much "biological male human of college age or older." I can accept that other people's definitions include FtM transsexuals in that....

There are some definitions that are better than others, and yours is excessively narrow.

In thinking about this discussion the other day, I found myself thinking of the jazz musician Billy Tipton. It's a fascinating story: Billy Tipton was a middlin' successful jazz musician who lived a long life and was a professonal musician for almost all of it. He succeeded at a man's job at a time and place -- America, several decades ago -- when gender roles were much more restrictive than they are today. Moreover, he was, by all accounts,a devoted husband, father and lover -- his surviving children, wife and previous wives all have good things to say about him.

He was also born a woman. He lived his childhood and adolescence as a girl. He never had any surgery either, he just decided to be a man and did it by sheer force of will. Perhaps at first he wasn't really, at heart, a man in a woman's body at first -- perhaps he just wanted to play jazz, and posing as a man was the only way he could do it -- but after living decade after decade as a man, he just got to thinking himself as one. Literally NO ONE who knew Billy Tipton knew that he had been born a girl, although there were some OTHER people who knew this girl named Mary Tipton who disappeared. (Was his first name Mary at birth? I may be misremembering that.)

His son discovered Tipton was born female after Tipton died. I imagine he found that discovery to be pretty traumatic, but when I saw the son interviewed a few years ago, he said that Billy Tipton was his father and a fine father at that.

So I ask you: what is it that makes a person a man: If someone is a husband and a father-- actually, let me stop right there -- Billy Tipton wasn't just a husband and father, any moron can be a husband and father and many of them are. He did something far more difficult, something I sometimes think that most men don't manage to accomplish: he was a GOOD husband and a GOOD father.

He also succeeds at man's work in a sexually rigid society.

Isn't that more important than what genitalia that person has, and whether they have a Y chromosome?

(To answer the obvious question: Yes, and there was penetration involved too, although of course his lovers never saw him naked. His surviving lovers swear they thought they were being made love to by a man, and they can't figure it out either. These were STRIPPERS, too, by the way, not fainting virgins, presumably these were women who were not easily fooled on the subject of penises.)

I can accept that ancient Judaic law counts anyone who's had their Bar Mitzvah as being an adult--though honestly, I personally have trouble thinking of a thirteen-year-old as a man.

For me, the requisite rite-of-passage is the high school graduation, which of course means that age can vary slightly as people skip ahead or are held back.

In the society in which Talmudic law was formed, a 13-year-old WAS a man. Today, not so much.

I think you may be placing adulthood too early. Many Westerners enter adulthood only when they've graduated college -- and even then, for me and the people in my family and social circle, the 20s were a kind of in-between-state, with all the rights of adulthood but not many responsibilities. We had good-paying jobs, we didn't live with our parents, but we didn't own homes and we weren't married and we didn't have children, and our parents were still young and healthy enough that we didn't have to take care of them.

I think that a 13-year-old who's serving in a children's army in Africa is an adult in a way that a 27-year-old affluent Manhattanite is not.

I suppose my point is that you can expand concepts however you like, but if you keep doing that, the result is chaos.

And if you FAIL to expand concepts to meet new evidence, the result is an obsolete worldview.

Regarding the whole cup/bowl discussion: You may see this as hypothetical, but we actually have a cup like that. It's blue, and very large, hold about a quart. I used to drink tea and coffee out of it until I found a set of mugs I like better. And I sometimes eat cereal or soup out of it. I say that when I'm drinking out of it it's a cup, and when I'm eating from it it's a bowl with a handle. We also have OTHER bowls with handles that I don't think any reasonable person would ever call a cup. The cup is a cup because it looks like a cup; it has to do with the proportion of height to diameter. Cups are taller in proportion to their diameter than bowls are.

What I'd prefer to live in is a world where everyone has permission to laugh at everyone else ...

That seems like an odd thing to say, coming from a fan. I figure just about 100% of people in the fannish community know how hurtful it can be to be laughed at.

I mean, I love a good joke and I know humor can sometimes be both successful AND cruel, but still.

Regarding overly femme MtF transsexuals: recent converts to anything are usually zealots. I've known people who've found religion and I've known formerly religious people who have rejected religion and one thing both groups have in common is they can BOTH be hard to be around for the first couple of years.

Yonmei: this is one example of what privilege is: being
reasonably sure at any time that there isn't a discussion going on somewhere about whether you're real people.

I've known a couple of women who did business in Arab countries where women are kept in a subservient role. Some of the Arab men they deal with have been known to explain that these Western women aren't really women, they are hermaphrodites with some of the qualities of men and some of the qualities of women.

That's just some Arab men, of course, others are more enlightened.

Some women might find that cause for despair, I try to find it encouraging because the next step is for some Arab woman in a burqa to start thinking: Hmmm... these hermaphrodites have husbands and children, seems to me they have it pretty good. I think I want to be a hermaphrodite too!

The argument is becoming more and more commonplace nowadays that the purpose of marriage is to have and raise children. To which I respond: Before my wife and I married, we decided not to have children, and a few years later it became biologically impossible for us to have children together. Does that mean we are not really married? I've said this several times, never received even a COHERENT answer, let alone a reasonable one. Just a lot of homina homina homina.

Kevin: Unfortunately, "polite" seldom meshes with "truthful" or "funny," and I'd rather have people honest and making me laugh than nervously not talking about the elephant in the corner.

You have been peppering this conversation with statements like this one that seem to me to be so off-the-wall that I have difficulty responding to them, much as you probably had difficulty coming up with a response to the person who thought David Lee Roth was emitting satanic mind-control rays.

One of our neighbors in San Francisco was a woman who had lost her 10-month-old baby a year before we met her; she told me about it a few weeks after we moved in. It seemed to me that she was not a particularly demonstrative or open person by nature, but her great sadness compelled her to tell me (and probably other relative strangers, too) about her experience. I have read the expression "tears leapt from her eyes" in books before and after, but I always thought it was just a figure of speech until this conversation; she didn't go through any of the usual physical behaviors of weeping, she didn't wail or sob and her voice remained steady, but tears literally were PROPELLED out of her eyes when she talked about her son's illness and death.

And afterwards, I was careful not to bring up the subject of children with her again, and I put up with a certain amount of bitchiness from her that I would not have put up with from other people. She'd been through a lot, slack needed to be cut. That, to me, is one of the essential elements of politeness -- to not talk about things when they are best not talked about. Talk about other things instead. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is take their mind off their troubles.

Yup, that dead baby was one huge elephant in the corner. But it wasn't my place to talk about it.

Kevin: The point of mockery is not to hurt and to wound--though it can occasionally do that--but to hold up a twisted mirror to a person, showing them how ridiculous they appear and allowing them to correct those deficiencies. And they are deficiencies: the proud, the pompous, the foolish, the deluded, the vain, the arrogant.

Forgive me if this comes off as a personal attack, but you're reminding me of the reason I stopped participating in writing workshops:

In a couple of bad writing workshops I was in, there was always a guy who delighted in coming out with the harshest criticism possible. When called to task, these people would say that they were being HELPFUL, that we were all friends here but EDITORS would not be kind to the writer's work. The critic might APPEAR vicious, but in fact he was simply trying to give the writer a taste of what the writer would experience in the real world.

From my observation, there's all too many people willing to be the first person to demonstrate "what the writer would experience in the real world," and there's a shortage of people who want to be encouraging.

And mockery IS intended to hurt and wound. Do you think Al Franken is trying to HELP George W. Bush?

pericat: Kevin, what you said earlier about a trans woman hitting on you has been bugging me, and I finally figured out why. See, I couldn't, for the life of me, on first, second, third readings, work out why you were so outraged. I knew you were disturbed by it, and more to the point, I thought there was no reason why you shouldn't have been disturbed. What I couldn't work out is, why you didn't just deal with it and move on?

Good question. Kevin, in what way was this trans woman behaving wrongly? She was sexually attracted to you, she let it be known, and you declined her invitation. Sounds to me like everyone was playing by the rules there.

I'm in the opposite position of pericat -- until recently, she was fending off advances her whole life. Me, I've ALWAYS been nerdy and pear-shaped, when someone comes on to me, I get a kick out of it, even if it's a guy. Doesn't happen often enough for me to get offended. It's actually happening more often now, as I get older, than it was when I was 20 and competing with all the hardbody athletes.

I attended one (1) party thrown by and for gay men in my life, it was about 13 years ago, a friend from high school invited me when I was in town. Of COURSE a few men tried to hit on me, and of COURSE they assumed I was gay, I mean, I was there, wasn't I? My friend was very protective of me, but then he saw that I was dealing with the situation on my own and neither offending anyone nor freaking out, and so he just left things alone.

I mean, jeez, I would've been worried if I hadn't been hit on in those circumstances.

The world where Billy Tipton was a man is a more interesting world, and one I'd much rather live in, than a world in which Billy Tipton was a girl who played dress-up for 50+ years. (Also: Occam's Scalpel.)

#294 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2003, 09:11 PM:

Oh, heck, I messed up my formatting on the previous post and of course there's no way on blogger comments to bring it back and fix it....

#295 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 02:37 AM:

Mitch,

I'd resolved to leave this conversation, but after your careful and reasoned post (along with pericat's illuminating post, which I already thanked her for privately), it looks like there are people actually making light rather than just counting coup, so I think it worth continuing, despite the pig-mud-turkey-wrestling subthread.

The story of Billy Tipton is particularly interesting, but I should probably go through the points/questions in order.

With the ridiculousness, admiration and friendship, I suppose it's the scenario of having the beloved, talented friend with the ridiculous moustache or the stupid hat. You don't know why they have this particular affection for this thing, but when (and if) they finally tire of it, almost everyone is greatly relieved.

With my problems in Silicon Valley vs the problems of GLBT folk in the real world outside this mythical fairytale kingdom: True. However, this sort of relativism can also be rephrased as: How can you complain about the fly in your soup while there are people dying in Iraq?

Umm... because the fly's right here in front of me.

With Billy Tipton: Interesting. Either his wife was in on the secret, and made arrangements, or else Billy never let on how he knew she slept with another man at least a couple of times.

I think I mentioned earlier that I viewed gender as a matter of self discovery rather than self invention, though in Billy's case a bit of invention was followed by a hell of a lot of discovery. So I would have to say that, in the end, I'd view him as a man.

[And the Grinch's heart grew two sizes that day {but not because anyone called him a pig}].

I suppose it's related to the way I think of my mother as a Californian. She moved here when she was twenty-one, from Germany, after having lived one year in England. She's now in her sixties and has lived her more than two-thirds of her life, speaks with no trace of accent (natural linguist), and after occasional visits back to Germany, remarks "I can't believe I ever lived in that place."

But the day she stepped off the plane? Then, she was a German girl with a British accent.

I suppose my benchmark, which I hadn't mentally formulated in the case of transsexuals, but have in others, is experience. It not just wanting to be something, or thinking you are something, but actually doing it, for long enough and well enough that people can take you seriously.

Back in college, I had a housemate who annoyed me no end for self-identifying as a poet, then looking at me blankly when I asked to read some of his poems. He didn't have any. For him, being a poet consisted of hanging out in a fashionable college coffee house and talking about being a poet. I, myself, had written several epic poems in high school, won awards, and still didn't call myself as a poet because I did not write poetry every day and in fact had gaps of months between poems.

With adulthood: Having a rite of passage to demarcate the passage into it, and actually being it, are two different things. Being an adult is having dealt with adult things.

With marriage: The purpose of marriage, as I see it, isn't children, but to learn how to be a husband or a wife. If you raise children, you learn how to be a parent. That's why we have phrases like "new husband/wife" and "new parents" to differentiate such folk from experienced husbands/wives and parents.

With the dead baby question: Good point. However, the fact that there are people mourning the death of a child somewhere doesn't mean we should actively try to stamp out dead baby jokes.

With the Writer's Workshops: As I've found, there are two types of critics who savage other people's work. One type--who I don't care for--do it to pull others down, which they feel in some way lifts them up (it doesn't), or occasionally with the idea that everyone needs to be taught humility, even those with something to be proud of (moralistic fruitcakes in my book). The other type, which is the category I try to fall into, are just bluntly honest, and while it sucks to be told that something you slaved over is unreadable dreck, at least when they praise something you created, you can honestly believe them. In fact, it's incredibly gratifying to hear praise from a usually harsh critic.

On the flip side of the coin are the people who cooh over everything you show them, and while this is pleasant for a moment, it becomes far less so when you hear the same tones applied to something you know to be an appalling piece of crap. They're more pleasant than the pull-everyone-down types, but just as dishonest.

If everything's accepted, then there's nothing to take pride in. If everything's rejected, there's nothing to be ashamed of either.

With the trans-woman hitting on me: She was also also old enough to be my mother, as I thought I'd mentioned, AND she was doing the feminine gesture subtly wrong, which offended me as an actor. Suffice it to say, it creeped me out more than it reasonably should have. Possibly because it was simply unexpected.

I have two friends who are deathly afraid of spiders. I don't understand this either, but it's not a reasonable thing.

As with all things sexual, there are some things I like, some I'm indifferent to, and some which actively turn me off. For me, transsexuals are in the last category.

Vicki: Two different points here. With separate not being equal, "equal" always depends on someone doing the judging. One person says apples are better than oranges, the next says oranges are better than apples, and the third says they're just as good as each other. However, people generally say that whatever it is they've got in their hand is better than what the other person is holding.

With your other question, regarding transsexuals, benchmarking being anything as a matter of experience, it does put transsexuals at a disadvantage in not having the childhood experience to back up their current sex. "Inferior" is a value judgement.

Which means that Billy Tipton knew what it is to be a man, but didn't have any experience being a boy.

#296 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 04:54 AM:

With my problems in Silicon Valley vs the problems of GLBT folk in the real world outside this mythical fairytale kingdom: True. However, this sort of relativism can also be rephrased as: How can you complain about the fly in your soup while there are people dying in Iraq?

Except that even in Silicon Valley, LGBT people still can't get married (can't even have their partnership registered - California isn't one of three states in the union that permits that) and even if I accept your hypothesis that no one in Silicon Valley is ever beaten up over their sexuality, gay bashing happens in California as much as it does any where else.

So the question really is - why are you complaining about the fly in your soup while next to you someone isn't being allowed soup and someone else is having soup thrown in his face?

#297 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 11:50 AM:

Another assumption, Kevin, this time about Billy Tipton's wife and their marriage -- even in those days, particularly in the jazz community ad other "fringe" communities, not all marriages were monogamous. There's another choice besides "(she) was in on the secret" and "(he) never let on why he knew she'd slept with another man...".

Cheers,
Tom

#298 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 03:28 PM:

Tom,

Excellent point. Especially since musicians do a lot of travelling even today while the wife and kids stay home.

Yonmei,

Where in the hell did you get the idea that I thought that no one in Silicon Valley was ever beat up for their sexuality or even their perceived sexuality? My own personal experience, as mentioned upstream, reports to the contrary.

As for gay marriage, my personal take is that the state should be out of the marriage business completely. The state should offer a flat Domestic Partnership contract, available to anyone who wants to have joint assets and file joint income tax--men, women, brothers, sisters, mothers, sons, etc.--and marriage should be left as a religious and social institution, to be administered by whatever church, mosque, synagogue or other variety of temple decides to recognize your particular union. If a particular house of worship decides your variety of union doesn't fit with their theology, you walk out the door and go to the next one down the block, or start your own, like Henry VIII did so he could have a church that recognized divorce.

Now, if you really wanted a "Defense of Marriage" act, it would be something outlawing divorce. Not that that would go over well with the people in the pews.

There are many things wrong with the law, and many things which are plain silly. For example, I can legally have as many mistresses as I like, yet I can only have one wife. I cannot be arrested for consensual sex with any member of my immediate or extended family over a certain age, yet I cannot marry them either.

I have friends with communal marriages, including children. The divorce/child custody wrangle with one of them is an incredible mess, and while the state is not being as helpful as it could, there are laws in place that make it more helpful than it might be.

I don't know anyone publicly engaging in incest, but there are people doing it and they're even more closeted than most gays. I'm certain I will be flamed by some people for comparing homosexuality to polygamy and incest, but speaking from a perspective of world cultures and history, they're highly analogous: taboo in some cultures, approved in others, highly desirable in a few. Bedouin tribesmen, for example, have been doing cross-cousin marriages for centuries and still are today. Polygamy, while no longer common under Islam, accounts for 2% of all Islamic marriages.

Gay marriage is a trendy issue and a current legal topic in the process of getting wrangled out, but less crucial I think than sensible laws regarding polygamy, since I think it's more pressing to get reasonable child custody arrangements rather than just tax forms and insurrance. Yet as a realist, obviously the gay marriage has to go through first since it has the most momentum.

As to the fly in my soup, just because I'm complaining about it doesn't mean that I think the people without soup shouldn't get some. As for getting soup thrown on you, I've gotten more than one bowlful intended for someone else.

"Other people have more traumatic lives than you, so shut up" has never worked for me as an argument. Sorry.

#299 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2003, 05:28 PM:

Kevin asks: Where in the hell did you get the idea that I thought that no one in Silicon Valley was ever beat up for their sexuality or even their perceived sexuality?

Why, because your response to what Mitch Wagner said (November 28, 2003 09:10 PM): But I'll venture to say that problems of a person like yourself, who is somewhat intolerant of transsexualism in the freethinking culture of Silicon Valley, are trivial compared with the intolerance faced by actual GLBT people in the real world. I mean, you have to put up with people calling you names, which is annoying, but you are not denied the right to marry, and you do not face the risk of being beaten or killed for your sexual preference.

To which you responded (November 29, 2003 02:37 AM ): With my problems in Silicon Valley vs the problems of GLBT folk in the real world outside this mythical fairytale kingdom: True. However, this sort of relativism can also be rephrased as: How can you complain about the fly in your soup while there are people dying in Iraq? Umm... because the fly's right here in front of me.

What is this but a claim that these problems GLBT people suffer because of intolerance don't happen in front of you, and therefore you have a right to complain about the local problems you claim you suffer because you are more intolerant of transsexuality than approved by your immediate community?

"Other people have more traumatic lives than you, so shut up" has never worked for me as an argument. Sorry.

Straight white men complaining about how they're discriminated against for being straight white men has never worked for me either. Sorry.

As for gay marriage, my personal take is that the state should be out of the marriage business completely.

Well, that's never going to happen, as you acknowledge below.

The state should offer a flat Domestic Partnership contract, available to anyone who wants to have joint assets and file joint income tax--men, women, brothers, sisters, mothers, sons, etc.

Ah, the French solution. This has been used in France primarily to please the religious right - I can see it catching on in the US for the same reason, though not, of course, if it's referred to as "the French model". ;-)

Gay marriage is a trendy issue and a current legal topic in the process of getting wrangled out, but less crucial I think than sensible laws regarding polygamy, since I think it's more pressing to get reasonable child custody arrangements rather than just tax forms and insurrance.

Uh... Kevin, it's evidently escaped your notice, but same-sex couples have children too, and those children are just as entitled to sensible child custody arrangements as the children of mixed-sex couples. This is something that same-sex marriage laws will give them. You're opposed to that?

#300 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 03:23 AM:

... and there doesn't seem to be much demand for polygamous marriage nowadays, whereas there does seem to be demand for gay marriage these days.

#301 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 09:43 AM:

Mitch Wagner wrote "there doesn't seem to be much demand for polygamous marriage nowadays".

Less than for same-sex two-person marriages, certainly, but there is some. I know at least one triad whose members very carefully are not saying anything that might suggest that the two of them who are legally married are married to the third--because they live in a place where that could be construed as a violation of provincial law about marriage. They've been together for years, they've raised children together, but the third member dare not refer to her partners as her wife and husband.

There are also people who, in the process of advocating that the state recognize same-sex marriages, are arguing that this would be not only a matter of human rights, but a Good Thing because it would encourage and recognize monogamy. And opponents who are saying that it would be a Bad Thing because it would lead inevitably to the legalization of polygamy. There's not much room in that argument for people--straight, gay, or bi--who want to point out that a loving marriage can have more than two members, without being a threat to anyone else's monogamy.

#302 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2003, 01:33 PM:

Vicki,

True.

The only trouble I have with polygamy/polyandry/polyamory is personal, since I find monogamous relationships complicated enough without going into the sexual politics of extra partners. And my polyamorous friends agree about the complications, but think it's better to deal with them in a rational fashion rather than doing the "torn between two lovers" nonsense.

Certainly, I think gay couples should also have sensible child custody arrangements, though I thought this went without saying, since gay relationships easily fall under the umbrella of polyamory, since if you have three or more partners in a relationship, you're going to have at least two of the same sex.

The point is moot anyway. Whether you prioritize monogamous gay relationships or polyamorous relationships first or second, the plain fact is that monogamous gay relationships currently have the popular and legal momentum.

And while I'd prefer the state be out of the marriage business completely, following a strict interpretation of the 1st Amendment, I realize that's not going to happen anytime soon, so we might as well enforce the "equal under the law" clauses and let everyone have legal marriages.

Churches don't have to allow it, but in the US, they don't hand out marriage licenses there either, so it's their choice if they want to be increasingly irrelevant.

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