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Archive for the ‘Life Online’ Category

I’ve been posting with my new identity to a few places I’ve been active at before, and find myself enmeshed in all the usual arguments about unrecognized privilege, discrimination’s existence without consciously bigoted intent, all the Awareness 101 stuff. At the same time, I’m reading and thinking about the discussions at trans places about moving past all that to other discussions, and also about the practical application of that desire to prejudice in women’s place online and off.

I’ve been here before!

This is just what it was like when I started taking part in disability exchanges. I could probably play Mad Libs with a lot of posts.

So I’ve realized the awful truth: we notional young ones, just out of the self-realization, we’re the massed levies that let the veterans consult about higher matters. I am a spear carrier at last!

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I’ve never been as good as I should have been at listening without rushing into comment. I think I’ve improved with the decades, but still…one of the hardest things for me about my new situation is recognizing just how often I still need to hush up and listen to others, because I don’t yet have any foundation of experience of my own on which to stand and talk.

But I hope to get better at it.

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The Bush administration made me into a hard-line social democrat, or perhaps an outright socialist. (I’m still thinking about it. The Obama administration’s economic catering services are keeping up the leftward pressure on my perspective.) It also made me something of a misandrist.

It’s not that I think all men are bad. I’m uncomfortable around a lot of male-bodied people, but I know that some of that is simply compensation, and a projection of my own interior realignment. It’s something that happens whenever a person goes through a big life change. Nor do I think that women are incapable of brutality and degrading violence as well as less physically overt cruelty.

Still, it seems to me that the horrors perpetrated by Bush and his administration aren’t really aberrations within patriarchal, corporate capitalism. The whole point of their system is that you’re supposed to be amoral except when your bosses need you to exercise self-restraint to protect their own schemes. Adam Smith had things to say about what government needed to do to protect people’s well-being outside the sphere of market activity, but for the modern elite there is nothing outside the marketplace, nothing that they can’t try to buy or steal and then sell or lease back to the rest of us. Then when some of them become the supreme bosses, there’s never a reason to refrain from indulging their passions at all, and someone else will always bear the burden of clean-up. Bush, Cheney, and their gang were simply more thorough about it than earlier gangs, and their escape without any real penalty laid the groundwork for their buddies in finance to do the same now.

This isn’t the world of all men. But it is men’s world. It’s what ambitious men do if they’re not stopped. And it’s hard for other men to stop them, because they play both on cultural cues they helped build up and hooks that run way down into our primate souls and beyond. In the immediate term, simply shifting power to specific women won’t help much because nearly every woman who’s risen within the existing order is compromised by it as thoroughly as almost every man is. In the longer term, though, it seems to me that a saner social and political order will necessarily be one in which uncoopted women have much greater influence over both law and practice.

As I write this entry, I realize that this is the context in which Bitch Ph.D’s glorification of her own bigotry horrifies me so much. It is a very characteristically male sort of response, whether she got it from her bigoted-joke-loving boyfriend or, as I think, developed it on her own. She’s gotten to used to being an individual voice of authority, detached from a community of close influence and correction, and is in a rather direct symbolic sort of way being a dick about it. This is how the world keeps getting re-broken.

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It’s not like I didn’t know there was transphobia all over. I’ve been guilty of my own share, after all, both before I ever thought seriously I might be trans and even after I began wrestling with the thought. But this has been a very depressing week both for LGBTQ rights and concerns in general and for trans respect in particular.

For me personally, watching Bitch Ph.D actively defend a very bigoted transphobic joke was especially aggravating. I learned a lot about feminism from exchanges she contributed to. I guess this is her way of signalling that lesson time is now over.

There’s no time like the beginning,I guess, to be reminded that any ally can abandon us at any time, right alongside the reminder that all categorization, including metadata, can become a weapon. I’ve always been skeptical (and worse, sometimes) about claims for the importance of constantly challenging and reconfiguring categories. Now I see that I was wrong. I simply can’t trust the care of my identity to anyone else.

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