This week (7th September 2021) an interview with Judith Butler was published in The Guardian. It created a bit of a furore on Terf Island twitter, for comparing Gender Critical feminists to fascists. In the midst of the backlash the article was significantly amended. For the record, I do not think her words should have been censored. As it happens many people had taken copes of the article and, as the interviewer (Jules Gleeson) boasted on twitter, it has been drawn to the attention of far more people. (Search ”Streisand effect” if you need context for this tweet).
About Jules Gleeson
The interviewer is a self proclaimed intersex activist, with an interesting body of work.
It is perfectly possible the above 👆is a factual statement and they do indeed have a difference in sexual development (DSD). There are a number of variations of sexual characteristics which fall under the term; though “intersex” is a label that has fallen out of favour for many people with DSDs. It is also worth noting that many people self–identify as ”intersex”, which is a contentious issue in these circles. The self-identifying kind of “intersex” tend to use this term because it serves to undermine notions of sexual dimorphism. Its a loaded term for that reason.
The interviewer has undertaken niche research centred on cross-dressing monastic saints and ”explanations of eunuchs as a normalised-yet-contentious feature of late Roman life”. I would quite like to read it to see why we are normalising this, again, in the 21st Century. I am quite serious. I am not a theologian, I am a devout, atheist. I am curious about the recurrent references to the divine in pontifications on transgender issues. There also parallels with some Christian ascetic sects, which practiced castrations/mastectomy to mortify the flesh. (See the branch of Russian Orthodox Christians , The Skoptsy). It would be fascinating to see how these world views overlap. Note, I am not accusing Gleeson of being Skoptsy adjacent. 😂. That would be an association fallacy.
Here are a few of the other pieces Gleeson published, in the New Socialist. This should give you a flavour of their preoccupations. 👇
Here are some more pieces. Suprise, Suprise, they were not a fan of the Lesbians who protested Pride to defend same sex attraction. They have also castigated The Guardian, previously, for transphobia.
I am not going to link to all the articles but I will include this one, re the Labour Party Leadership contest, for sheer devilry. I particularly enjoy the way Peter Stringfellow is wedged into a critique of, female centred, feminism. Thats a smear, by association, too far for this feminist 😂.
Trans Rights, Sex & Peter Stringfellow
The Offending Article in The Guardian
Here the Queen of Queer wades in with her obsession for re-categorising the female sex, to include males. While the male sex still commit 99% of all sex offences, overwhelmingly against women, this is a breathtakingly naive stance. Her pronouncements about pronouns do not address the concrete realities about women’s lives. So far the advantages, for women, seem to be, checks notes, male rapists in female prisons, males competing in women’s sports, and the normalisation of dehumanising language like ”chest-feeder” or ”cervix haver”. Noticeably public information campaigns, for males, retain the word ”man” for the prostate-havers /testicle-bearers. Tis almost as if there is some SEXism at play in the gender justice movement.
She spouts the usual Butler Bollox about how we women just need to refuse to re-enact gender norms, as if nobody ever thought of this before. However, refusing to perform sex stereotypes, to liberate women, is not consistent with a choice to identify out of our sex category. In case you were not aware Butler now claims to be non-binary cos they is more enlightened than the rest of us! Are those of us claiming our womanhood deemed to be accepting the ”Gender performance” expected of us? Woman is a sex based category, this does NOT change; projections onto what being a woman means change, that is not the same thing.
Next up Judith demands that we accept a more expansive notion of womanhood which includes those who DO identify with the performance of ”Gender”. Surely this is reifying the notion of sex stereotypes and advocating carving them into flesh? If women reject them we can remove our breasts, if a man identifies with cultural norms associated with femininity he can modify his body to join the sisterhood. Doesn’t this leave us with medicalised closets for those who reject their sex, in favour of the physical embodiment of Gender Stereotypes?
Given that Butler also wishes to overthrow capitalism is she aware how much income is generated from the Gender Industrial Complex? CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 25% is considered at the upper end of pretty good. 👇
Back to the Butler article
Would it not be more radical for men to expand the category of maleness to celebrate alternative variants of masculinity? We have challenged the straightjacket of sex stereotypes in many different ways, historically, without claiming that Boy George was literally a woman. Isn’t that more radical? The addition of trans men here also looks a bit tokenistic. Women tend to focus on issues raised by males invading the female sex class. Men need not have the same concerns about females invading their spaces because SEX Matters. It may be annoying to have a blue-haired, female, teen who thinks she is a gay man. It is unlikely to make adult males feel intimidated.
She also goes a bit terfy in this next clip. Could it be she knows males, socialised as males, don’t entirely learn to shed their learned behaviours when in ”Girl Mode”? Doesn’t an inability to identify out of their maleness have implications for actual women and girls?
Notice Butler then moves on to describe a struggle against ”Gender Norms” which could sit comfortably within a Gender Critical argument. Rejecting sex stereotypes is integral to (my) “Gender Critical” feminism. We know women are real, our sex shapes aspects of our experience but biology need not be primary and controlling, in all circumstances. However we do have different bodies, to men, and sometimes that difference needs accommodating. Some of these may relate to our reproductive functions, some of them may be related to other, sex based, health needs. Others may be more prosaic in that simple product design, based on default man, often fails to meet the needs of women.
Below she is on the way to a good, if not original, point. From the moment our sex is recognised and recorded assumptions are made about the position we will hold in society. Girl children are left to cry for longer and fed less, we may be put in flouncy dresses which we are supposed to keep clean. We may be given toys to inculcate expectations of domesticity. Women’s liberation depends on unpicking this earlier grooming /female socialisation. It’s also beyond regressive to see medicalised identities as a “liberation” , for men or women, depending , as they do, on a lifetime on cross sex hormones. 👇
A couple of other observations. I am not a proponent of blank slate theory. I think both nature and nurture play a role in how the sexes are shaped. I am critical of the elements of female socialisation which encourage us to put our interests last. At the same time some of the qualities, nurtured by a female socialisation, are positive and it would be great if we inculcated them in our boy children.
ALL SEXES MATTER
This demand that feminism works to solve all the other problems Butler lists here, weakens women’s rights campaign. What other movement is asked to work on all the other injustices in the world. Can’t female people centre ourselves? We are half the population, except in countries that practice aborting female babies. This is the #AllSexesMatter for feminism.
Wry smile at Butler claiming to be against misogyny. She has lent credence to the biggest attack on women’s rights for decades. The ideology she embraces has unleashed a wave of misogyny unlike any I have seen in my lifetime.
Here she says a white person cannot centre themselves in Black struggles but is simultaneously, maddeningly, blind to the obvious parallel in demanding women must centre males, in a movement for the liberation of women.
Lol at the navel-gazing, non-binary, theybe calling out the danger of becoming self-absorbed. 😂
It can hardly be news that the Pope believes man and woman are Godly creations. This is a rather run of the mill observation. However, one does not have to be religious to believe biological sex is real. This is what is known as “Association Fallacy” and it is a bad faith argument designed to paint women, who know what a woman is, as religious conservatives. To be fair, religious conservatives also deserve the protection of single sex spaces and even they are not neccessarily down with the Pope’s sexual politics. If all Italian Catholics followed the Church’s teaching on contraception, for example, it would not have one of the lowest birth rates in Europe.
Heaven help us we are Vatican adjacent apparently. Next up some guff about pronouns and the world of ”they”
Here is the offending paragraph. The furore, for anyone who remains blissfully unaware, is about a male who exposed his genitals, to women and girls, at a spa. He was in the female section of a Korean spa, where going naked is the norm. A woman complained and was told the person was in that section because they identify as a ”woman”. This is legally correct under Californian law. Trans activists first claimed this was a right wing hoax. When it turned out to be true some, Laurie Penny (see below) pivoted “they should not have been looking because that is rude”. Finally it was revealed that this is a man with a history of sex offending going back nearly 20 years, Cue, tweet deleting or brazen double downs!
Again the lack of self-awareness from the Queen of Contradiction herself. She has not even come up with a stable definition of “gender” and yet wants all laws to give primacy to a nebulous concept over a material reality. Yet, apparently the Gender Critical movement is full of contradictions. 😳
Below is how Butler characterises the women fighting to protect single sex spaces. I will give her this she is throwing every slur that comes to mind. This is a ridiculous mis-characterisation of the women fighting for women’s rights. Many of the women, and men, opposed to Gender Identity Ideology, are same sex attracted, many of the women have fought for reproductive justice, and the vast majority are in this fight because of the higher risk of sexual violence when we dismantle safeguards.
Here is the part where she blatantly compares women, fighting for sex based rights to fascists: ”The anti-gender ideology is one of the dominant strains of fascism of our times”.
I won’t revisit the issue of attacks on trans people. I covered the transperbole on murders of trans people (males) in this post 👇. In the UK the trans demographic is one of the safest and as a group they have committed more murders than have been victims. Globally the biggest risk factor for trans-id males is working in prostitution.
Butler & Ann Fausto-Sterling
Given that Butler recommends reading Anne Fausto-Sterling, in the above clip, here is detour to look at her work. She is best known for claiming there are 5 biological sexes.
She has since explained away as tongue-in-cheek prompting this memorable twitter exchange. Superb teacher voice coming through here. 👇
Invariably when women are told to “educate ourselves” we do just that and it doesn’t end well for the sex-denialists.
I would like to see Butler render her ideas in a more accessible format because her prose style seems designed to obfuscate, rather than illuminate. There is an ambiguity in her thought process that looks tactical in its evasiveness. I am not alone in making this observation, indeed twenty years ago the Guardian itself publicised an award made to Butler on her prose style.
Butler wins bad writing contest
So, ”gender” is performative and needs to be disrupted to liberate us. Saying “gender is a destructive fiction“ is beyond the pale and makes us fascists. Gender is a problem if it is performed by the sex that aligns with the associated gender identity. So, a feminine male, in Girl Mode, is cutting edge, radical politics but a female doing the same is a boring old Cis girl. A man repudiating his sex, and becoming dependent on Big Pharma, to validate his lady feelz is going to destroy capitalism. A woman who rejects sex stereotypes can become a theybe or identify as a man. Some of these identities may need hormones/surgery but it’s not a requirement. Women need to get over their genital phobia and realise that a Woman with a penis is no threat, even if she presents herself like a man because that’s just queering the binary.
I think I’ve got it!
Researching the impact of Gender Identity Ideology on women & girls as well as the consequences for Lesbians, Gay males and autistic kids. I do this full time and have no income. All my content is open access and donations help keep me going. Only give IF you can afford. Thank you to my generous donors.