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If People Want To Use “Ze” As A Gender Neutral Pronoun, Whatever

2016 December 14
by Ian Welsh

Oxford’s student union has suggested using “ze” as a gender neutral pronoun.

(Edit: Apparently, they haven’t even done that!)

It is an offense to use the wrong pronoun deliberately, but not required to use “ze” for everyone. This follows the University of Tennessee suggesting tutors ask students which pronoun they prefer.

I remember in the 70s when “Ms.” came into use. It felt really awkward, but in a couple years I didn’t even notice. It was an issue of basic politeness, if a woman didn’t want to announce her marriage status, it was polite to accommodate her and did me no harm. Gender neutral pronouns exist in various languages, and frankly, if “ze” comes into wide use, I might prefer it to the awkward “he or she” in places where “they” likewise feels awkward.

However, this is a minor issue, especially in America, where the right to an abortion has been receding for years and is now at real risk of being lost. I’m for trans-rights, etc…but the right to an abortion effects far more people and is far more basic.

(Theresa May, the UK’s Prime Minister, also supports a reduction in the allowed time for abortions to 20 weeks from 24, though how much she cares about this issue is unclear, and it’s not nearly the same thing as an overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US. Meanwhile, in Canada, we have no abortion law, and the world has not ended.)


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68 Responses
  1. December 14, 2016

    I use “ta” and “tamen” as a place holder – Chinese. it equates to not having a point of reference for the person – singular and plural.

  2. XFR permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Japanese comes with almost all of the reforms ever suggested for english baked in, there’s some specifically “feminine” and “masculine” constructions but they’re all optional. Pronouns too are optional and so not really an issue, terms for professions are all gender-neutral, referring to men and women as “male persons” and “female persons” (“otoko no hito”/“onna no hito”) is not uncommon.

    Hasn’t noticeably improved the status of women in Japanese society over course of the centuries, I’d say.

  3. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    There’s a debate in the trans/non-binary and feminist communities about this. And a lot of experimentation going on.

    New terms usually go through this period then a consensus emerges. The two classics are ‘Ms” and ‘cis’ (cis meaning a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, the opposite to ‘trans’). Years of ideas, trials, wrangling, debate, something catches on in popularity on then they became normalised. ‘Non-binary’ is heading that way as well.

    Note within those communities these are small issues, compared to many others such as civil rights, access to medicine, jobs, contraceptive rights with easy access, assaults and murders, bullying, suicide rates and so on.

    Now maybe 80% of my reading and commentating is within the LGBTI/feminist/left/etc areas on a lot of sites ..you know how often this comes up …less than 1% of the time.

    Overall there is a consensus that something has to be changed and a feeling that it will change naturally over time, but there are a lot of much bigger issues for us that we concentrate on.

    In the trans community our ‘big hitters’ in terms of writing (people like Brynn Tannehill and Julia Serano who popularised ‘cis’) rarely talk about it. In fact it is the new and emerging non-binary (along with some intersex) community that is the most interested in it for obvious reasons, however this is a level 3 priority to them as well (compared to their many level 1).

    NOTE: interestingly it is parts of the feminist community that are pushing this the most, for quite different reasons than the trans/non-binary one.

    What happens is the media, particularly the conservatives picks one element like this and blows it all up out of all proportion to its importance ..even to us.

    It frustrates us because we want to talk about jobs and our unemployment rate (far, far higher than the average), housing, attacks on us, discrimination, access to cheaper medical treatments, PReP, reproductive rights, cheap AIDs drugs access, stopping intersex babies being mutilated, programs to reduce young LGBTI kids horrific suicide rates…and all the many, many rest and we struggle to get traction on those

    As a background, the English language is clumsy in these areas, but it has the great attribute of being able to create and add new words. Think of how many new ones are created and used every year.

    Something will come up (and I have no idea what it will be), probably within the next 5 years or so, something will resonate and pick up popularity, start to be used by some, then many and then become normal. This is period of experimentation and lots of things will be tried along the way, nearly all will fail, then something will catch on.

    But none of our activists, groups, etc have this as a priority, it is a ‘nice if it is done’ sort of thing, compared to our many ‘life threatening’ ones that we concentrate on.

  4. markfromireland permalink
    December 14, 2016

    It would appear that the Daily Mail and Times are being even more deliberately inaccurate than usual:

    On the weekend of December 11th, several articles were published stating that Oxford University Students’ Union had produced a leaflet which told students “to use gender neutral pronouns such as ‘ze’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’”.

    As far as we’re aware, the information which has been published is incorrect. We have not produced a leaflet implying that all students must use ‘ze’ pronouns to refer to others, or indeed to themselves. We believe the resources which are referred to within many of the articles could be support materials used by our student leaders and welfare representatives, which alongside other information and tips, reminds individuals of the importance of not assuming the pronouns of their peers while also aiming to normalise stating pronouns in introductions. Further to this, the assumptions made may in fact refer to a policy used with the Students’ Union Council, where it is asked (for accessibility and minuting purposes) that everyone who speaks states their name, college and pronouns. There is also a further possibility that our work and remit has been confused with the work of the wider University, whose Trans Policy and guidance does include a mention of neopronouns (pronoun sets like ‘ze/hir’, ‘ey/em/eirs’).

    In this situation, and in light of the factual inaccuracies published, we would like to highlight that our support for trans students includes respecting neopronouns and non-binary identities. We would also like to clearly state that we would never tell anyone to use ‘ze’ pronouns instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ if ‘he’ or ‘she’ is the pronoun someone wishes to use. That would be misgendering and would likely have the biggest impact on individuals (ie, some trans students) who may already be struggling to get people to use ‘he’ or ‘she’ for them. It would be totally counterproductive.

    We do however suggest the use of genderless pronouns like singular ‘they’ to refer to individuals whose pronouns haven’t been confirmed. This avoids assuming what pronouns a person uses based solely on how they present themselves. We also recommend that at events like campaign meetings, workshops and training sessions, people introduce themselves with their pronouns. It reduces awkwardness, emphasises that gender cannot be assumed, and most importantly helps make trans students feel comfortable. It’s a very small step that can have massive positive effects.

    Requesting that people state their pronouns, and do not assume the pronouns of others, is not particularly radical or controversial. It’s a standard practice, not just in Oxford but in student communities and LGBTQ-friendly spaces all over, and we encourage its spread. We find it disappointing that a piece of misinformation has resulted in a media storm around what is a very basic effort to ensure our trans students feel welcome within the Oxford community.

    Source: OUSU Statement: The Use Of Gender Neutral Pronouns

  5. James permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Ian, I recommend you look into the recent brouhaha surrounding professor Jordan Peterson and Bill C-16 in Canada which would *require* everyone to use whichever pronouns each person desired, and Dr. Peterson’s highlighting of, and resistance against, that kind of compelled speech.

    Recent interview with Dr. Peterson about this matter
    http://www.c2cjournal.ca/2016/12/were-teaching-university-students-lies-an-interview-with-dr-jordan-peterson/

    Article summarizing the situation
    http://www.c2cjournal.ca/2016/12/the-man-who-reignited-canadas-culture-war/

  6. XFR permalink
    December 14, 2016

    I somehow managed to forget to mention the blindingly obvious–the generic and gender-neutral “-san” instead of Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms.

  7. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 14, 2016

    Thanks MFI. Corrected.

  8. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    That prat Jordan Peterson. I researched him carefully and went through his published papers.

    He has a very dangerous ideology for a psychologist. His belief is that stability in a society (as defined by him) is the most important thing. To do so it needs an overarching ideology, which he advocates as ‘christianity’ and our current racial, social, economic and political hierarchy.

    Those at the bottom should just ‘suck it up’ as the need for stability is far more important than their needs and rights.

    In fact, this is the danger, he states that those who fight against that … are mentally ill and should (compulsorily) be treated as such. That psychology should be focused on making people accept this hierarchy even if it is to their disadvantage.

    He is an idiot, I pulled him up recently on some nonsense he posted about physics…. he knows nothing about society or history of how they change… and who does the changing and why they change. In other words he is a conservative reactionary.

    ———
    Media beat up as I said.

    My mostly LGBTI FB feed (I use other areas for science, politics, etc) , just having read through this today …not a mention about this.
    What is mentioned: trans women being murdered, hate literature being given out on an Australian school bus, Catholic UK archbishop saying children should not be allowed near LGBTI people socially, the need for intersex legal rights, GOP anti-LGBTI/women/etc legislation, GOP wanting to end Medicare and social security, various good and bad articles about trans kids, Ohio banning abortion and doing nothing about homeless children or those who lack adequate food, heaps of stuff on right wing ‘religious’ people and groups attacking LGBTI ones, Australian conservatives trying to end our racial discrimination laws, political battles over legal gender change here in Oz, various stuff about the endless LGBTI hate coming from the Murdoch press…. And so on.

    Note even in the Intersex community their biggest issues are ending non consensual irreversible surgery on intersex babies and very young kids, and legal gender changes. Those are their #1 priorities.

    As I said, level 3 importance to us.

  9. XFR permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Something strange is going on with WordPress again. When I posted the above comment I couldn’t see any comments at all, not even my own initial comment or Stirling’s before it. Immediately after posting I could see all six.

  10. December 14, 2016

    U-u-u-ugh!!!!!
    I wish they’d quit coming up with all these red herring issues that only distract us from the more significant dilemmas we all really should be focusing on.

    It seems somehow people just can’t stand the idea of problems actually being solved, so they have to chronically and perpetually keep us distracted by all these histrionically-charged first-world alleged infractions of sorts.

  11. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    However, this is a minor issue, especially in America, where the right to an abortion has been receding for years and is now at real risk of being lost. I’m for trans-rights, etc… but the right to an abortion effects far more people and is far more basic.

    I think I’ve been banned but no prob. I’ll speak anyway.

    I often wonder where the men come in to this drama. Men impregnate women and then what? Blame them? Rather than women close their knees, let’s make men keep their dicks in their pants.

    Voila! No abortion.

  12. par4 permalink
    December 14, 2016

    I think AO would be more appropriate. It applies to a larger percentage of humans.

  13. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    AO—and what does that mean again?

  14. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    …trans-rights. There are no trans-rights. There are only human rights. Everything else is nonsense.

  15. realitychecker permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Golly gee, it’s so wonderful to see madness taking over in what is supposedly a thoughtful community.

    FWIW, I feel that I am actually a pangolin, and I demand to be addressed as “O Grand Fabulous Pangolin 423 Majesty 87351” by any and all, until I change my mind, which may happen tomorrow, because I’m still experimenting, and I change my mind a lot. Don’t be a bigot and refer to me in any other way, or everybody will know you are a horrible person, and I will continuously remind them that you are.

    Don’t any of you scurvy bastards dare to do any experimenting yourselves and expect me to conform to your new arbitrary standards, because I will think that you might just be fucking with me.

    Does anybody remember the Monty Python sketch with the silly names?

    To be serious for a second, hard as that may be, how can anyone expect the entire complex of potential new terminology to be digested and properly used by a population that can’t tell you who the fucking Vice-President is?

    When did it stop being an invasion of privacy to just walk up to every unusual-looking person and inquire what label they want to put on their sexual and genital variations?

    MADNESS

    Thank God we don’t have any more serious problems to puzzle through, amirite?

  16. DMC permalink
    December 14, 2016

    An old friend of mine, who is a midwife and teacher of midwives, once cited the figure to me that 1% of live births in the U.S result in some degree of gender indeterminacy. Do the math from there and you wind up with a LOT more people than some commenters seem to think we are actually talking about. Its not so much that this is suddenly an issue as it is the sheer numbers you get with population growth.

    Or to put it REALLY simple: Person-hood for ALL humans=YAY!
    Hurt fee-fees in Weenie White-boy World=BOO!

  17. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    “There are no trans-rights.”. Actually there are.

    For example making legal gender changes, very difficult to impossible in many places. How can you function in your chosen gender when you cannot legally change it?

    Take an ultimate absurdity, North Carolina, with HB2. A trans person (trans woman or trans man) cannot use the correct bathroom unless their birth certificate matches the bathroom’s gender. But it is next to impossible to change their certificates there. Catch 22.

    So feminine trans women are supposed to use male toilets and big burly trans men women’s ones…

    Discrimination laws, many places do not explicitly forbid legal, employment, housing, etc discrimination of trans people. Hence our unemployment and homeless rates are 3-4 times other people.

    The right to access HRT and surgery, in many places we have to go through expensive, time consuming and difficult hoops to be allowed it and that can literally take years. That includes surgery that cis people can just have on their say so. Even a cis adolescent can have vaginaplasty or breast surgery, but a trans person? We have to get psych (etc) ‘approval’ for the same procedures.

    There is terrible hypocrisy in this, cis people can (and do) have anything they want. Intersex people get non-consensual surgery performed on them all the time ..even as babies ..trans people? We have to ‘prove’ we really need it.

  18. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    DMC
    “An old friend of mine, who is a midwife and teacher of midwives, once cited the figure to me that 1% of live births in the U.S result in some degree of gender indeterminacy.”

    Correct, there are a lot more intersex people than most realise, many who don’t show anything until puberty as well. OII Australia estimates 1.7%..that’s more than there are trans people (estimated 0.6%-1.2%). For example, many people who have AIS don’t know until they hit puberty and don’t have a period and go to a doctor then find out.

    The number who identify as non-binary is also far more than trans ones, some surveys show as much as 2.5%-4%.

  19. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Madness…I think we have our madnesses mixed up. How mad! I must be a barking asshole!

  20. realitychecker permalink
    December 14, 2016

    @ DMC

    “Hurt fee-fees in Weenie White-boy World=BOO!”

    Hey, that’s not polite, and Lisa insists it’s all about politeness. You are a horrible person, per Lisa.

  21. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Oh sorry. I guess I misunderstood. This sarcasm and irony thing has gotten the best of me.

  22. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    markfromireland “It would appear that the Daily Mail and Times are being even more deliberately inaccurate than usual:”

    I know, that is difficult to believe…not. The classic are those headlines ‘sex change surgery for 5 year old” and similar.

    Virtually no trans kid has anything irreversible done until 16 almost everywhere. They may have s social gender change younger, they may (if needed) use reversible (long used since the mid 1980s no less) puberty blockers at Tanner stage 2 or 3 (usually 11-13) that cause no permanent changes whatsoever. Only after all that would they start hormones (and even they are reversible until about 1-2 years of use) and then, if desired, surgery at the earliest 18 (and most are older).

    There are rare (and they are very rare) cases of a year or so younger, but that is in cases that have been assessed as extreme risk.

    There are also intersex kids, given the wrong gender as babies often with non consensual surgery, then their gender identity forms (usually 3-6) and it is the opposite to that selected for them. They are now in the same situation as trans kids.

  23. realitychecker permalink
    December 14, 2016

    @ Lisa

    I think you and DMC are inflating your occurrence numbers, got anything more aut horitative?

    You’ve prompted me to think a lot about issues we’ve knocked heads on, and I’ve had extensive discussions about it with my significant other (a specialist in adolescent sexual health education at the CDC for 20+ years) in trying to better understand and sympathize with what you are trying to do, but I keep coming back to feeling that all your groupings are really trying to define and refine your own individual identities (which we all struggle to do as we grow up, btw), and it is premature for you to arrogate to yourselves the right to tell outsiders how to act and speak at your whim until you’ve gotten further along amongst yourselves in that process.

    What if other small-percentage label-groups tried to do the same things you are trying to do (e.g. little people, deformed people, albinos, etc, etc.)? Would you grant them reciprocity? If not, why not?

    Finally, you’ve asserted it is all about ‘politeness,’ but I’ve seen you say many things that are anything but polite. How do you reconcile that?

  24. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Intersex kids. Intersex. Trans kids. Please excuse me but what the ever loving FUCK are you talking about?

    Don’t answer cuz I already know you’re full of shit.

  25. tsisageya permalink
    December 14, 2016

    What? So I’m supposed to be polite here?

  26. Tom permalink
    December 14, 2016

    You know its funny. Iran has no problem with transgenders and will pay for the sex-change operation and issue a new birth certificate certifying the change. They even give refuge to transgenders from other Muslim countries not so accepting…

    Being gay however warrants the death penalty but if 4 witnesses don’t show up, then they don’t prosecute.

  27. Jeff Wegerson permalink
    December 14, 2016

    I’m not a grammar Nazi I’m just alt-write.

    Ian it’s been a long time since he I called you on this but I can’t pass this one up.

    It’s not important because for all intents and purposes there might as well only be one word. Any way “irregardless”.

    And look if after 22 comments no one else has mentioned it why bother.

    “…the right to abortion effects far more people..:”. No! The lack of the right to abortion effects far more people. The right to abortion affects far more people but the lack effects more people.

    Sorry too good to pass up.

  28. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Ah, Jordan Peterson. I strongly disagree with him on, well, most things. On some things he sounds flat awful. But …

    Some of the events surrounding his situation seem endemic of a problem I see w/a huge subgroup of leftist culture that goes way beyond just pronouns. At first I only noticed it on some internet sites, then it began bleeding into the real world. Whether pronouns, trans issues, race or now with Trump, a very large, vocal group of people will decide that anyone who doesn’t share their views is an awful human being and needs to be silenced and/or verbally abused (and occasionally physically abused), all while the shouting mob claims they are the ones being assaulted and silenced.

    It embarrasses me and worries me for the future of the world that (very far) right wing places like Liberty will invite someone like Bernie Sanders and give him a respectful hearing, while people on the left run around trying to get people fired or no platformed because they don’t agree w/them on some particular issue, or because they don’t engage in the appropriate ass-kissing technique, or what have you.

    This is a not intended as an endorsement of Peterson. I disagree vehemently with him on some things, possibly most things, and if I was a student at U of Toronto, I would might try to avoid taking his classes (it could be in his specific classes he says worthwhile stuff; all I recall is that I read a fairly long interview with him after watching this clip a month or two ago and on many things we hold VERY different views and are on opposing parts of the political spectrum). But I don’t see staging a mass protest to to keep people from hearing him speak (on free speech!) in a public space.

    Anyway, looked up some youtube video and went with this one, as it has no commentary until the end so people can make up their own mind. It should also not be taken as an endorsement of Lauren Southern or Rebel Media, as, again, I think we are on opposing parts of the political spectrum and some of the comments to this video are really awful. I don’t know exactly what her/their views are on most things but based on the comments, they are not mine. That said, she and Peterson did not appear to be the bad actors in this situation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4R0bWC41g4

    Or, if you want something from this month, where leftists are being attacked or just don’t want to go to youtube, try this story regarding Kimberly Peirce and Reed College. A self-described gender fluid lesbian shows up to discuss her much acclaimed film and is greeted with posters “saying “Fuck you cis white bitch” and hecklers shouting “fuck you scared bitch.” The comments here are mostly much better than at the youtube place, though if you read them to the first piece you will get the joy of watching the film “Boys Don’t Cry” compared to “Birth of a Nation,” and somewhere in there someone in attendance complained that the director took down the insulting posters before her speech, and someone (same? can’t recall) complained that she rejected the students’ earnest attempt to open a dialogue, or something like that. Coz nothing sez “let’s have a peaceful chat about how you did things I wouldn’t have done if I had made this movie” like “fuck you bitch” (whether cis, white, scared, or otherwise, variations on this comment do not appear to have been made in good fun).
    (h/t Feminist Current, which links to two other articles in addition to this one)

    https://bullybloggers.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/hiding-the-tears-in-my-eyes-boys-dont-cry-a-legacy-by-jack-halberstam/

    I’m fine with using a gender neutral pronoun for people who prefer to be called with one, as long as you don’t expect me to guess your preferred pronoun on sight. But the way a lot of people (frequently people who claim persecution or fear of persecution) are acting goes way beyond worries over real or imagined “micro-aggressions.” This sort of mob behavior directed against people who don’t properly genuflect goes beyond a left or right wing issue, and historically people on the left accused people of the right of being guilty of it. Now they are at least equally guilty. Along w”OMG Trump is elected someone call an ambulance” or “Tennessee is a red state I’m glad Gatlinburg burnt to the ground” or “everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or okay with racism” (kinda like saying everyone who voted for Hillary is okay with cheating to win and war profiteering) and colleges & universities reacting to the presidential election with safe rooms complete with crayons and play dough for their adult college students indicates to me we have MUCH bigger problems as a society than whether everyone involved can agree on when to use what reference when speaking to or of someone who doesn’t like the stereotypes associated with their biological sex.

    To be clear, I fully agree gender roles are stupid and people should not be confined by them or discriminated against because of not fitting into a stereotype, and that is more the issue than whether you can guess someone’s preferred self-identification by sight. To quote someone I lost touch with long ago, who was totally straight and totally fine with gay people and had recently got out of prison for manslaughter (self-defense, but self-defense in which the other person died via fists) (very smart guy, had picked up a biz degree in prison and learned how to build engines) when someone else who might have been mildly scary to most people told him he shouldn’t sit with his legs crossed or people would think he was gay, “That is stupid as fuck. I’ll sit however I want to and if you don’t like it I’ll beat your ass.” There was more but that was the beginning and all I remember well enough to quote. He had a point.

  29. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 14, 2016

    You know its funny. Iran has no problem with transgenders and will pay for the sex-change operation and issue a new birth certificate certifying the change. They even give refuge to transgenders from other Muslim countries not so accepting…

    Being gay however warrants the death penalty

    Pat Robertson is also okay w/trans people, iirc. I think this comes from the idea that someone who doesn’t conform to gender norms just belongs in a different body and then their non-conformity is more acceptable. Apparently they are unaware of people who sexually desire people of the sex they transition to.

    @PangolinMajesty — If you’re gonna talk the talk, better walk the walk. Do not embarrass pangolins by acting like a typical human. I like pangolins. They are endangered and do not need bad press.

    To reiterate, yay pangolins:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhdhhhyYpio

  30. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    tsisageya :

    Intersex, those born where their genitals are ambiguous (they don\’t look clearly male or female) or they are clear one way or the other but they later find our that they combine elements of being male and female. There are genetic or hormonal or unknown reasons for this.

    There are many separate conditions. One classic is AIS, where a male child in the womb doesn\’t respond to testosterone signals from the mother and/or their own testicles and don\’t develop as a male. They are born looking female, the nearly always identity as female when their internal gender identity (brain gender) forms But they are chromosomally male.

    Transgender child: This is when that internal gender identity forms and it is at odds with their physical gender. The incongruence cause gender dsyphoria, which leads to all sorts of mental health issues, up and including severe depression and suicide.

    There is only one cure, transitioning to their ‘brain gender\’, with appropriate medical assistance (when older) . Everything else had been tried back in the dark past: therapy, drugs, electric shock treatment, incarceration, lobotomies …. all with total failure.

    If a child is allowed to transition and is supported latest studies show their symptoms disappear and they have the same mental health stats as their cis peers…which is an amazing success rate unmatched by anything else.

    I wrote this awhile back on what gender dysphoia is like (and trust me it is horrible to have) and the different forms it takes.

    http://www.crossdreamers.com/2016/07/photo-by-patrick-miko-lisa-mullin.html

    In my case my body was wrong to me from 6 years old, I had bits that I didn\’t want and missed bits that should have been there. I actually felt as though a vagina should be there and kept checking for it. At 7 I tried to cut my penis off.
    Because of the era I went (like so many others then) into the closet. hiding, denying and acting for many years, until I couldn\’t do it any longer.

    There a lot more trans people ( both men and women) than most think The last US survey showed about 0.6% of the population. The New Zealand school kid survey showed 1.2% identified as transgender, of which a third (0.4%) had already come out during school years. So it is not rare but it is not common.

    Latest brain research shows physical differences in certain brain areas related to self identity, that match the preferred gender of a trans person and the common theory is hormones in the womb, with ones at certain times affecting physical development, but a later surge affecting brain gender. With trans people they didn\’t match leading to differential development. Most (but not all) trans people show clear symptoms and gender dysphoria from as early as 3 onwards.

    It applies equally to males and females and there are as many MtF trans women as there are FtM trans men, though the media nearly always concentrates on trans women.

  31. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    Something funny here, my ‘ are coming out as \’

  32. Lisa permalink
    December 14, 2016

    This is at the extreme end, but this is the crap we have to put up with all the time….

    “MARXIST PROGRESSIVE PEDOEPHILES BRAINWASHING & GROOMING YOUR CHILDREN WITH GAY TRANSGENDER PROPAGANDA”
    “AUSTRALIA’S “SAFE SCHOOLS” Just a Sick Progressive Political Agenda to Create a Confused Generation of Children”

    Truth: Safe Schools is a brilliant (and loved) Australian program to reduce bullying and increase acceptance of LGBTI kids at school. This came from surveys that showed (as in other counties) horrific levels of bullying with terrible impacts of their mental health (including a heart rending suicide rate).
    We just had a wee kid kill them self last month after being bullied and beaten up for for years because they thought he was gay.

    The right, especially the religious right, hate it and along with the Murdoch press have attacked it endlessly for the last couple of years. What horrible people they are.

  33. realitychecker permalink
    December 15, 2016

    @ Mojave Wolf

    Great long comment above, applies to many topics. I started to pull away from the left when I noticed that they seem to always turn authoritarian as soon as they gain a grain of power. I can’t abide when people tell others what they must and must not do, and I was dismayed to find that the American left, even at Firedoglake, would betray its own stated principles as soon as they thought they could get away with it

    I give you a pass for abbreviating my preferred appellation, but I want you to know that I have absolutely nothing against pangolins (or any of the groups under discussion on this thread) unless and until they turn authoritarian. Everybody should get to live their own life as they choose, and should be able to love and be loved as they choose with a consenting partner, as well as feeling abundant self-love. And should be safe from bullying and violence. That is what I believe, and that is how I live.

  34. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 15, 2016

    @RealityChecker/MajesticPangolin/PickSomething — Thanks! Agreed with what I *think* you mean by authoritarian impulses on the left. Very much so. (I could see multiple interpretations and I’m going with what my wife thought the most likely; fwiw I am NOT an anarchist or libertarian, even though I get along very well with a lot of local libertarians–other people who live out in the middle of nowhere and have a strong dislike of people telling them what to do; both the left and right tend to be that way out here; our conservatives are more the “leave me the heck alone” type, as opposed to the “mind everyone else’s business” type I grew up around.)

  35. different clue permalink
    December 15, 2016

    I once read about animal behavior experiments where a bunch of rats in a cage were faced with a danger they could do nothing about . . . like a small fire in one end of the cage. Since they couldn’t run away, they began furiously grooming themselves. I read that this is called “displacement behavior”. The rats were rightfully anxious about the fire in their cage, and because they couldn’t do a think about it, they displaced their anxiety-fueled energy onto some irrelevant behavior that they could perform.

    I suspect that desperate concern over personal pronouns and gender identifiers among the left is a kind of displacement behavior undertaken by people anxious over the obvious goal of the Global OverClass PlanetLords to exterminate 7 billion people all around the world and make it look like an accident. And because the left wing people are anxious that they will be among the 7 billion dead, and because they feel they are not able to do anything to prevent the World OverClass Peoplecide Plan, they are diverting their anxiety-fueled energy into desperate concern over gender identifiers and such. Just like the rats desperately grooming themselves in one end of the cage with a fire in the other end of the cage.

  36. Lisa permalink
    December 15, 2016

    This is what it is like for us on the ground…

    “A number of you who read my post earlier today about Milo Yiannopoulis attacking a trans woman student at my university–misgendering her, mocking her appearance, and inviting his cheering audience to join in attacking her-”

    He did his ‘free speech thing’ , took a picture of a student trans woman and ridiculed her… and inspired hate against her..she was right to feel threatened…
    “She spoke of her fear and the experience of listening to the sold-out hall full of people laughing at her and mocking her. ”

    “Milo said he would “almost bang” her, since he likes men and she is really a “he” because she doesn’t “pass””…and as a gay man how does he know?

    Wow, love that ‘free speech’…. or id that ‘free hate speech’?

    “The chancellor’s email defended Milo’s actions as free speech, which is necessary to the diversity we cherish, while saying that the chancellor condemned personal attacks and was “disappointed” that Milo had attacked a trans student.”

    “The student’s email reply to the chancellor, sent in the early morning hours, was incandescent and expletive-filled, but fully cogent. She pointed out that hate speech, threats, and the use of slurs are not protected free speech, and contribute nothing to dialog. She noted that university policies against sexual harassment were violated (Milo said he would “almost bang” her, since he likes men and she is really a “he” because she doesn’t “pass”). She decried the fact that a small group of students peacefully delivering a petition to the chancellor’s office–the iconic act of free speech–were confronted by police who ejected them from the building, while her harassment was framed as protected speech that must be tolerated.”

    “She said that the university advertising itself as LGBT-friendly in response to her being attacked struck her as sheer hypocrisy. Coming after a year of constant fighting for her ability to access to gym facilities, she had hit the breaking point, and was withdrawing for her own safety and sanity.”

    “The response of the student organization that initially invited Milo to campus, by the way, is that it’s too bad this student’s feelings were hurt, but everyone needs to learn how to deal with hurt feelings and lighten up, and if she doesn’t like that, well, “Don’t go here then.”

    Right now if he had taken a picture of a white (and presumably straight) male of female …and then went on about them..well imagine the howls….

    He went around the campus, obviously asked around (after all trans women look ..well … like women…) got a picture of her in her earlier days without her consent then attacked her personally in front of a large audience… Let’s be realistic, how long until she was physically or sexually (or both) attacked…eh? Some ‘free speech’…

    More:
    “Alt-right celebrity troll Milo Yiannopoulis of Breitbart was paid by a student group to speak at my university last night. He’s making a pile of money on his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, you see. And last night he did what he always does–make his fans roar with raging laughter at a local feminist woman who is of color and/or a rape survivor and advocate and/or trans. He picks on some marginalized local person with a millionth of his wealth, celebrity, and social power, reveals their personal information, and invites his fans to join in on the fun of attacking her.”

    “On my campus, his chosen target was a sophomore student who is a trans woman. Yiannopoulis put up on the big screen an early-transition photo of her, so that he could get a big audience laugh out of saying, “Have you come in contact with this person? It’s just…it’s just a man in a dress, isn’t it?”

    Here’s the substantive part of his attack on her (which you should be aware is full of misgendering and offensive slurs):
    “This quote unquote non-binary transwoman forced his way into the women’s locker rooms this year. He got into the women’s room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way in where they don’t belong. In this case he made a Title IX complaint. You know, Title IX, the set of rules to protect women on campus? Now they protect trannies in your bathrooms instead.
    I’ve known some passing trannies in my life. Trannies—you’re not allowed to say that. I’ve known some passing trannies, which is to say transgender people who pass as the gender they would like to be considered. They have no problem changing in the women’s locker room. But [student’s name] isn’t even trying… I can tell, because I’d almost still bang him… the ULTIMATE sign he doesn’t pass.””

    https://www.facebook.com/cary.costello/posts/10208202630724371

  37. Margo permalink
    December 15, 2016

    I’ll call you whatever you like but I’m still going to think you are a tool if you call yourself a Ze.

  38. Lisa permalink
    December 15, 2016

    From her, I am sure some here will cheer at what Milo did to her…

    “He had his harassment of me planned out well in advance. I’m sitting there and I hear him say my name and I just froze up. I have never, ever, ever been more terrified in my life of being outed. Ever. He put my picture up, which as already stated, was taken from a prior period when my masculine features were significantly more sharp and extremely noticeable. And I am sitting there frozen in total terror that somebody around me would recognize me, point me out, and incite the mob of the room against me. Nobody did point me out, thank god. But do you have ANY idea how much power Milo had and how it feels to pray that your ability to “pass” doesn’t fail you now? That’s what it was like. Fuck, you can’t even appreciate what I’m writing. You say you do but you really don’t. You do NOT have this perspective. I was looking at the stage, consciously aware of trying to not look “suspicious” and reveal I was the person he was talking about (even as I could feel the color draining from my face), but also not looking at Milo directly ‘lest he recognize me and instantly set off dozens of people screaming at me.”

    “It wasn’t until hours later, as my body began to process it, that I broke down sobbing uncontrollably. I can handle transphobia (you’re basically forced to as a trans girl) but Milo went way the fuck beyond that in what he did to me.

    Do you have any fucking idea how hurtful this is? Do you know what it’s like to be in a room full of people who are laughing at you as if you’re some sort of perverted freak, and how many of them would have hollered at me (or worse) if I was outed? Do you know what this kind of terror is? No, you don’t, because as a cis person you do not understand. Sorry-not-sorry, but you don’t and you can’t. You don’t understand how misgendering is violence. Yes, VIOLENCE. And did you miss the part where Milo was talking about having sex with me? Aka shoving his dick up my ass, and joking about applying lipstick to seduce me. How the fuck is this acceptable? This is both gender and sexual harassment. What court upholds this as free speech? Answer: NOBODY. THIS WAS SPECIFICALLY TARGETED AT ME. WHAT FUCKING COURT HAS EVER UPHELD THIS SORT OF HARASSMENT DIRECTED SPECIFICALLY AGAINST A STUDENT AS “FREE SPEECH”? ”

    “You will also never know what it’s like wanting to die every day, you don’t know what it’s like attempting suicide multiple times, you don’t know what it’s like looking down 20 stories to a concrete ground and being an inch away from plummeting to death, you don’t know what it’s like putting your neck on a railroad track, only to chicken out right before the train got there and cursing yourself for not going through with it, (to your fucking bullshit police, no I am not suicidal right now but you fucks will try and twist past-tense into present. you pretentious assholes), you don’t know what it’s like to look in the mirror every goddamn morning and see a face you don’t recognize, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE GOING THROUGH PUBERTY FOR THE WRONG FUCKING GENDER. THIS IS A HELL YOU CANNOT, AND WILL NOT, AND ARE UTTERLY FUCKING INCAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING. And then being denied medical access for years and years and years. Do NOT have the audacity and gall to say you “understand” our concerns. NO YOU DO NOT. You don’t know what it’s like being in poverty and unable to pay for physical transitions, and locked in the wrong body. You have NO FUCKING CLUE what it’s like to be in our shoes and having to pretend everything is fine and dandy. And then to have the university defend a speaker that targets you by name and puts up a masculine-looking picture of you to laugh at…regardless if I had been there in person (sitting in terror) or hiding in my home, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. FUCK YOU. JUST FUCK YOU.””

  39. V. Arnold permalink
    December 15, 2016

    @ Margo
    The PC stuff going on in the U.S., and the west in general (snowflakes/safe spaces/ mico-macro aggressions) is beyond comprehension for this old codger.
    Tool aptly describes what is happening to whole populations in the western world.
    Methods of control that would probably amaze even George Orwell; on second thought, nah; Orwell saw it all.

  40. Chuck O. permalink
    December 15, 2016

    These sorts of issues usually get sorted out by the speakers of a language. That has already happened to a large degree in the U.S. The plural pronouns “they” and “their” have come to be used as a gender-neutral way of referring to an individual. For example, this sort of sentence is common in everyday usage, “If a person wants to park there, they have to have a ticket.”

  41. Someofparts permalink
    December 15, 2016

    No abortion law in Canada? How does that work?

    Also, fwiw, late term abortions have not been legal all along, so fussing about 20 weeks is nothing. Thanks to the governor for vetting the original version of the law proposed by thee legislature.

    Lisa really broke it all down in her first post. Those who would vilify women in corporate media do it by making mountains out of molehill. Meanwhile, real conversations in legit feminist forums has just the sort of serious priorities Lisa describes.

    Jeff Wegerson, funny stuff. Thanks.

  42. Robert Dudek permalink
    December 15, 2016

    In Polish, gender bias is built into the structure of the language and I think it will be nearly impossible to get rid of.

  43. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 15, 2016

    Jeff Wegerson, very funny my good Xir.

  44. Jeff Wegerson permalink
    December 15, 2016

    Effect an Effect
    https://xkcd.com/326/

  45. XFR permalink
    December 15, 2016

    colleges & universities reacting to the presidential election with safe rooms complete with crayons and play dough for their adult college students indicates to me we have MUCH bigger problems as a society than whether everyone involved can agree on when to use what reference when speaking to or of someone who doesn’t like the stereotypes associated with their biological sex.

    It looks to me like much of this is the security state trying to co-opt traditionally “left” constituencies. It’s the same pattern of paranoia and infantilization that one sees with right-wing scare-mongering but targeted at a different segment of the population. The message is still, as always, “You are surrounded by monsters. You have no means to protect yourself from them. Submit to us without question or complaint for only we can save you.”

  46. StewartM permalink
    December 15, 2016

    @tsisageya

    Intersex kids. Intersex. Trans kids. Please excuse me but what the ever loving FUCK are you talking about?

    Don’t answer cuz I already know you’re full of shit.

    It is a simply a fact that there are more than two genders in humans.. There are six survivable karotypes:

    http://www.joshuakennon.com/the-six-common-biological-sexes-in-humans/

    X – Roughly 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 5,000 people (Turner’s )
    XX – Most common form of female
    XXY – Roughly 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,000 people (Klinefelter)
    XY – Most common form of male
    XYY – Roughly 1 out of 1,000 people
    XXXY – Roughly 1 in 18,000 to 1 in 50,000 births

    The site gives as an example a boy who was XY, functionally male on the outside, and then became very ill. Turns out that internally he had female reproduction organs and was menstruating and the fluids had no way to exit! Then there are the well-documented cases where people who were born girls spontaneously undergo a sex change and become boys at puberty (google “penis-at-twelve boys”). Biological sex is definitely not a binary thing.

    And yes, while I am amused or worry about some things which are called “PC”. However, I maintain that the most common, strident, and virulent form of “PC” in this country isn’t even vaguely leftwing at all, it’s very right-wing; as an example, just witness the “Omg-he-said-THAT?” blowback Chris Hayes got a few years back on discussing war and “heroism” on his TV show, for saying things like this:

    Personally, I’m comfortable calling the vast majority of Americans in the military today heroes, whether they’re dead or alive, insofar as I think it shows courage to pledge a willingness to fight to the death defending one’s country, even if you’re never forced to do so or are subsequently ordered to engage in a needless conflict. And while I think it’s legitimate to worry that valorizing the troops could be exploited or misunderstood in ways that might make unjust wars more likely, in practice I think the pressure to wage unjust wars is coming from elsewhere (though I could be wrong about that last part — how does one assess the impact of such rhetoric?).

    The criticism of “PC” seems to be that it stifles debate and thinking (the “how dare you stifle free speech?” retort). However, it seems to me that that what the right calls “PC” is actually when someone challenges so-called long-held “common sense” cultural biases into question, when someone proposes something to get people to think anew, and what the right pretends isn’t “PC” is their thunderous shouting down or mocking of anyone who raises questions they don’t want to see raised (like Hayes). So the way I see it, the real “PC” which is intended to shut down free speech and thinking is theirs.

    As for the use of emotionally-charged ‘slur’ words–nobody I know of is advocating criminal or civil penalties for using these. But I think Lisa’s point is that language is not a fair playing field, there is no English equivalent of “nigger” or “chink” for whites that carries the same punch, no male equivalent of “slut”, no heterosexual equivalent of “queer” or “faggot”. All the prejudices of the culture are reflected in its language (which is why analytic philosophy came about, an attempt to avoid these). And I don’t think that the people who are making the ‘anti-PC’ case here think that forgoing the use of the words cited above, for politeness, diminishes their ability to say what they want to say or the point they want to make. Moreover, most agree that works of literature and art get exempted from from this requirement.

  47. realitychecker permalink
    December 15, 2016

    @ StewartM

    Nice try, and I’m sure made in good faith, but do the math and add up all the percentages you provided. Should such an infinitesimal tail really have the ability to wag such a large dog at will?

    If so, then everybody has the right to tell you what words you can and cannot use. A very cramped view of free speech, amigo. Too cramped.

    When I was in law school, they taught me that free speech means we must all tolerate even things we hate to hear and see, but need not tolerate actual physical abuse. Nazi parades, flag burnings, etc., etc. Think about it.

    Freedom CANNOT mean the right to do only what NOBODY dislikes. The absurdity of such a formulation should be apparent to all. Especially a smart guy like you.

  48. V. Arnold permalink
    December 15, 2016

    realitychecker
    December 15, 2016

    Hear, hear!

  49. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @RCPangolin: free speech means we must all tolerate even things we hate to hear and see, but need not tolerate actual physical abuse. Nazi parades, flag burnings, etc., etc. Think about it.

    Freedom CANNOT mean the right to do only what NOBODY dislikes. The absurdity of such a formulation should be apparent to all.

    Seconding V.Arnold’s “hear hear!!!” Also to VArnold — yes!

    @XFR The message is still, as always, “You are surrounded by monsters. You have no means to protect yourself from them. Submit to us without question or complaint for only we can save you.” Not sure whether coming from security state or just some sort of post 9/11 mass psychosis which never went away (that is my pet theory) but yes to this. Absolutely. Brilliant formulation.

    And totally ignore my mass psychosis theory. I just replaced it w/DifferentClue’s.

    @DifferentClue–That. Is. It. Thank you. I have been trying to puzzle this out for YEARS. Displacement behavior. Vast oncoming horror about which can presently do little or nothing. Ignore and pick other things to freak out over. I bow to you, DC-san. (Also, I am copying this to use in future discussions, along w/some other things from this thread)

  50. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @Stewart–Agreed that the right started the whole “PC” thing for pretty much the reasons you stated, at least that is my memory. Where I’d disagree is that I think parts of the left have become almost a parody of themself, or have actually adopted and become the (previously) false version of leftism that the right created to mock us. And now both sides are doing it, or rather, it seems the left is now worse about this from where I sit, but that could be because I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the right. (I have tried on occasions, but while I have lots of right wing friends in real life, I have found basically one right wing website that doesn’t make me too angry or queasy to look at on a regular basis, and it’s not primarily a political site; for the rest, life is just too short to spend it on places that don’t have some positive reward value)

  51. XFR permalink
    December 16, 2016

    no male equivalent of “slut”,

    “rake”

    “womanizer”

    “cad”

    These may lack the same punch, or sound dated, but ISTM that that’s the result of the behavioural double standard, not the cause of it.

  52. XFR permalink
    December 16, 2016

    Where I’d disagree is that I think parts of the left have become almost a parody of themself, or have actually adopted and become the (previously) false version of leftism that the right created to mock us.

    There was a gap of over a decade between this phenomenon flaring up and the original campus PC controversy petering out, so I wouldn’t assume that this is just some sort of unfortunate organic development of the left. It has strong echoes of the sort of infiltration and subversion tactics used to disintegrate left-wing movements back in the COINTELPRO era.

    Many of the targets singled out by the Twitter mob in the early days were prominent thorns in the sides of assorted nationalist or right-wing causes. Julian Assange, Penny Arcade when they took a swipe at Dick Wolf, Ted Rall when he criticised drone assassinations, the Mozilla CTO who refused to let DRM into the code base, a mission scientist for an EU space probe, etc. It all reminded me of the “particutions” in The Handmaids Tale.

  53. StewartM permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @XFR:

    “rake”

    “womanizer”

    “cad”

    All these are weak sauce compared to “slut”. You could say “cracker” or better yet “white trash” is the rejoinder of “nigger” but again not the same emotional punch. Can’t think of anything equivalent to “faggot”.

    Remember the old SNL “point/counterpoint” where Dan Aykroyd’s character would “win” the debate, to the howls of laughter and delight of the audience, simply by retorting “Jane, you ignorant slut” and how any corresponding insults she hurled at him were pretty much ineffective and didn’t get any similar rise from the audience? The Right knows that keeping these Words of Power in discourse is important, that’s why they fight to keep them valid.

  54. StewartM permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @RC

    When I was in law school, they taught me that free speech means we must all tolerate even things we hate to hear and see, but need not tolerate actual physical abuse. Nazi parades, flag burnings, etc., etc. Think about it.

    I said explicitly in my post this is not about making any speech illegal, no matter how offensive; all should all be protected. And I also said explicitly the arts get a pass.

    That being said, let’s say you’re watching some politico talking, and he/she/ze refers to women seeking abortion services or contraception as “sluts”, gays as “faggots”, and African-Americans protesting police violence as “niggers”. Would you really regard the choice of words used as neutral? What is the impression you get that he/she/ze used that language when other choices were available?

    Part of the freedom you say you’re defending is that people have a right to criticize, shun or ostracize those who use language they think offensive.

    Nice try, and I’m sure made in good faith, but do the math and add up all the percentages you provided. Should such an infinitesimal tail really have the ability to wag such a large dog at will?

    I’m not sure what you mean by this, but if you mean “hey, trans people are a tiny minority so they don’t matter” then that seems to argue that you’re really not protecting the very freedom you say you defend. After all, there’s the truism that, as a practical matter, people saying things that a large majority agrees with doesn’t require protection. I recall a reviewer at a Republican convention many years ago sarcastically remarking about one speaker’s rhetorical mock-heroic challenge to the crowd that “No matter what people say, I am proud to be American and will stand by that!” with “I half-expected the crowd as one body to rise up against him and demand he take that back”. To use the very example you gave, flag-burners need protection, while as a practical matter people protesting flag-burners are not threatened.

  55. realitychecker permalink
    December 16, 2016

    A StewartM

    Well, you’ve twisted my argument to the point where I won’t even address your interpretations; I suggest you try reading from a neutral viewpoint. Your morality seems completely detached from legality, to say the least, and way too casually, IMO. Try using the same techniques you used against my remarks, but try directing them against YOUR remarks instead, then get back to me, OK?

    Re ‘ignorant slut,’ et al, may I submit that the most derogatory word is ‘ignorant”; try applying that to ANYBODY and see what you get.

  56. StewartM permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @RC

    Re ‘ignorant slut,’ et al, may I submit that the most derogatory word is ‘ignorant”; try applying that to ANYBODY and see what you get.

    Do you think that if Aykroyd had just called Curtin “ignorant” you would have heard the same howls of laughter and delight? Really? Go back and watch some of those old SNL skits! Curtin *does* call Aykroyd all sorts of horrible things too, like “ignorant,” and these get nary a rise from the audience. But then he calls her a slut, and BAM!! Instant audience howling.

    That’s a result of the biases built-in in our language, from our culture and history. That’s the whole point: language isn’t a fair playing field, emotively, and (to me) much of what you are complaining about are attempts to rectify that bias.

    Try using the same techniques you used against my remarks, but try directing them against YOUR remarks instead, then get back to me, OK?

    ? I don’t understand; to be honest. You were the one who brought up flag-burning and majoritarianism. To truly defend human rights and freedom, you have to be especially concerned with those, because those are the first targets to be likely squashed.

  57. StewartM permalink
    December 16, 2016

    To truly defend human rights and freedom, you have to be especially concerned with those, because those are the first targets to be likely squashed.

    ..with those of minorities..editing error.

  58. tsisageya permalink
    December 16, 2016

    I can’t be bothered with the rest of these comments but do y’all actually understand what’s happening here?

    I used to be stupid too back in the days of dubya, so don’t worry. But I’m smarter now. You can be too!!!

  59. tsisageya permalink
    December 16, 2016

    Oops, barking asshole here. Full disclaimer.

  60. realitychecker permalink
    December 16, 2016

    @ Stewart

    I’m not denying that ‘slut’ has the kind of power you describe, just saying that ‘ignorant’ supercharges the effect, and that ‘ignorant’ alone seems to be crushing to ANYONE it is applied to. (I have used that word to friends in the legitimate and non-hostile sense of someone simply ‘not being aware of some fact,’ i.e, “you’re just ignorant of the facts about this,”and you’d think I had poisoned their dog. Try it sometime lol.)

    I think Aykroyd got that big reaction from the combination because everyone realized it was a totally outrageous thing to say, and they understood that it was said in a comedy context; do you really think the SNL audience was packed with misogynists? Comedy is frequently about saying the conventionally outrageous, you know that.

    Lots of language can have wildly different emotional content depending on which of two essentially synonymous words are used; recall Newt Gingrich’s enormously successful effort to train his activists to that principle in the 1980’s where they had lists of such word pairings but would only apply the favorable ones to Republicans and the derogatorily-flavored ones to Democrats (GOPAC?, something like that). It’s not just women and sexual minorities that can
    be victimized by emotionally coded and charged words, that’s the point.

    Personally, I avoid this by avoiding ad hominem language on serious topics (at least until I am convinced that the person I’m engaging with is being deliberately obtuse, or abusive themselves, then I feel I’ve earned the right to make them pay for wasting my time lol)

    Anyway, I respect you and I know you operate in good faith, but it really would take a lot of typing to explain the rest of our miscommunication above.

    To keep it short, I might ask, “why should the arts get a pass?,” and hope that from there you could think about the problems with giving only certain people and groups the right to challenge others about their use of language in a free speech society. To me, it just raises a real question as to whether we ARE a free speech society.

    Last thought: Don’t ‘fighting words’ really just mean that we are assuming that the person who hears them has no self-control?

  61. StewartM permalink
    December 17, 2016

    @RC

    To keep it short, I might ask, “why should the arts get a pass?,” and hope that from there you could think about the problems with giving only certain people and groups the right to challenge others about their use of language in a free speech society. To me, it just raises a real question as to whether we ARE a free speech society.

    RC, I don’t see us as talking about legal rights, I don’t think that no one is saying that there should be criminal or civil penalties for any of this….what this is (I think) is about changing social norms and having people think about language use. The arts get a pass because in art it’s necessary to portray characters as they truly are, whether or not they are behaving in ways acceptable to social norms or not (I was thinking of all the attempts to pull Huckleberry Finn from school libraries).

    Are we a free speech society? I would say “definitely NOT” but most of that has little to do with complaints about “PC”. There are still positions or simple facts that can’t be openly held or even discussed without being shouted down; I cited all the obligatory huzzahing about military service but there is even more of this kind of “censorship” in regards to sexual behaviors. Some 70 years after Kinsley, America is not a democracy in its norms; we still pretend that idealized behaviors are the actual “normal” when it’s not, and when people get exposed for doing things well within one standard deviation of actual practice they get called “perverts”. It’s a form of suppression and actually is the most virulent form of “PC” in the US today.

  62. realitychecker permalink
    December 17, 2016

    I never spoke about criminalizing anything; legality only as to the First Amendment.

    I have to say, I am troubled by the tendency of the modern left to be willing to just dismiss anything on the books, just because they don’t like it. Used to be just primarily the Second Amendment, now it’s growing to include the Second Amendment. I find that to be very troubling, anarchistic, and profoundly anti-democratic. It reflects a complete disdain for process.

    As to the rest of your comment, I know many find it difficult to understand the complexities and subtleties of the First Amendment, but I must say that you might as well be speaking Mandarin while I am speaking Swahili.

    I suggest you do a little reading about the philosophy and principles behind the First Amendment; there’s plenty out there.

    Or, maybe just re-orient your approach to this along the lines of Freedom vs. Feelings. Or Rights vs. Victim Mentalities.

    Complainers don’t get special rights just because they are complaining. And the Constitution rules unless you go through the difficult process of changing it.

    If you scrap the Constitution, imperfect though it may be, exactly what will you replace it with?

    Just imagine what your attitude would be if someone wanted to restrict abortion rights, or black voting rights, just because they disapprove of them. I doubt that you would be so agreeable to that.

  63. realitychecker permalink
    December 17, 2016

    EDIT: Used to be just primarily the Second Amendment, now it’s growing to include the FIRST Amendment.

  64. XFR permalink
    December 19, 2016

    @StewartM

    I thought my point was clear enough. Saying “there’s no male equivalent of ‘slut'”–when in pure definitional terms there most certainly is one, several in fact–fundamentally mischaracterizes the problem. (I also forgot about “lecher”, which has rather more punch than the ones I listed.)

    The power doesn’t reside in the words themselves, it resides in the cultural context in which those words are spoken. “Bastard” is simply a generic insult now because illegitimacy has lost its stigma. That doesn’t mean use of such words is okay, it isn’t. But piously fixating on words to the exclusion of everything else is just a sort of political Puritanism, and is unlikely to be any more effective at combating prejudice than Puritanism is at combating vice.

    If attitudes change the language might change in response or it might not, but thinking you can alter attitudes by altering the language is cod sociology. Both sides of the 90’s campus PC controversy seemed to come to grips with this eventually, and the whole thing had largely petered out by the end of the decade, which is why the seeming revival of the phenomenon in recent years is exceedingly strange to me, and makes me suspect astroturfing of some sort.

  65. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 20, 2016

    I had some comments I never got around to posting in this thread, and now the world has passed it by, but since already written here they are, in case someone comes by later or has an email subscription to it:

    @Lisa — stipulated that Milo is a big jerk, and that a lot of what he says and does is indefensible and awful. And if I was a school administrator, openly mocking a current student at the school would be a big NO if he was speaking at my school. I’d want some sort of contract that he wouldn’t do that.

    I don’t keep up with this as much as some people, but I vaguely know who Milo is, and some of his past exploits, and he doesn’t restrict himself to attacking trans people or people of color. From what I can tell he pretty much just doesn’t like leftists and particularly feminists, of any stripe. That said, I’ve also seen him be intelligent reasonable and polite and one of the less outrageous and more clear-headed people in the room. He varies.

    You left out the student’s name, and I’ll respect that in my reply, but I looked around to find out more details.

    You (or the article you quoted?) said there would be howls if this was a straight white person. I saw multiple photos of the person in question. If they don’t count as white then neither do I, and most of my ancestry is Scotch-Irish-Anglo, w/a great grandfather of unknown origin who looked Italian. This person is much more caucasian looking than I am.

    And said person was terrified of being “outed”? From my quick google, they were featured in articles, complete with photos and interview quotes, and both male and female names of said person, for the same reason they were the subject of Milo’s tirade. Because they sued the school specifically for the right to get naked, penis and all, in the women’s locker room. (the school had said women’s locker room fine, open display of penis not fine, after female students complained about penis-presence; person in question said they were being “body-shamed” and had a right to display their penis in women’s changing rooms and sauna). They seem to be pretty much as out as one can get.

    Also, they knowingly went to see Milo, who prides himself on being offensive for the fun of it and especially likes to be offensive to people on the left, and they waited IN LINE to see this, and then went and on about the pain they endured and how they and those like them are the most special snowflakes that ever fell from the sky, and we must all defer to their special pain because we cannot know what it is like, as none of our pain (which they clearly totally CAN estimate accurately!) is comparable to theirs? This is just annoying, not sympathy-inducing. EVERYONE has their own unique pain, and some people have it much worse than others, either due to life circumstances or personal neurochemistry. This person? Doesn’t strike me as way out on the unfortunate end of the bell curve.

    OTOH, maybe, truly, no person not like them can ever truly appreciate what it is to be mocked. Because that never happens to anyone else, ever. Far be it from me to say this person doesn’t have special suffering deserving of extra special attention, because they got offended at a show they went to apparently for the express purpose of being offended, as opposed to animals at factory farms or humans who suffer things like this: (normally not much for trigger warnings, but this link gets a trigger warning. Woman gets bullied, and beaten, and run over by a car, and burned, by a giant cheering mob, and died at some point in this process to the sounds of people cursing her and cheering those who were killing her):
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/world/asia/flawed-justice-after-a-mob-killed-an-afghan-woman.html?_r=0

  66. MojaveWolf permalink
    December 20, 2016

    @XFR– I wouldn’t assume that this is just some sort of unfortunate organic development of the left. It has strong echoes of the sort of infiltration and subversion tactics used to disintegrate left-wing movements back in the COINTELPRO era.

    I’m not going to say you are wrong. I have usually made the organic assumption, but I’ve wondered occasionally about exactly this sort of thing. If you wanted to hamstring the left as much as possible, convincing them to divide into groups that were constantly screaming at each other about who was the most oppressed and who failed to adjust the latest change in preferred wording and who should just stfu would be exactly what you’d want to do.

  67. tsisageya permalink
    December 25, 2016

    blah, blah, blah.

  68. tsisageya permalink
    December 25, 2016

    blah

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