A partial Observer: not so liberal with the truth…


Julie Burchill’s ‘Transphobic’ rant has been a long time coming. Actually, the liberal left and feminists have been dancing around each other – and frequently butting heads – in the moshpit of identity politics and intersectionality for some time now (check in here for a whistle-stop summary of some of the fundamentals of that dispute) and the only truly shocking thing is that it’s taken so long to become big news in the MSM. Once again, the spectre of Fleet Street and its international bretheren being eclipsed by web-based social media as the first point of contact for authentic public opinion rears it’s head…

It’s not insignificant that the most vociferous backlash – against Burchill in particular – has arisen from liberal quarters. The comments section of her article was flooded with ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ types crying transphobia! and misogyny! and both it, and the piece in question were swiftly removed from the paper’s website. and replaced with an apology and a promise to ‘investgate’ (you can still read it here). Their liberalism – prevalent today – is of the ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ type which, in its rush to affirm the validity of all and sundry often fails to discern – as Moore does so eloquently in this piece in today’s Guardian – the difference between true liberation and a nominal equality. More damagingly still, such liberals miss, or perhaps ignore, how granting the latter to one group can impinge upon the former for another group. Thru my day job, I’ve met financially and emotionally vulnerable women who live under the omnipresent threat of deportation. They understandably feel less than liberated by the knowledge that the Abu Hamzas of this world are accorded full legal rights under equality law. Conflating the two has in the past lead – and continues to lead – to a kind of laissez-faire liberalism which perversely serves to uphold the worst tenets of patriarchal societies’ reactionary conservatism. It took ten years for Greater Manchester Police to investigate and bring charges against a mostly-Pakistani child prostitution ring in Rochdale; a delay caused in no small part by fears of being perceived racist. Similar fears continue to result in a paucity of prosecutions brought against African-Britons who continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in contravention of British law. It’s surely not insignificant that in both the above instances, the integrity (and safety) of females is valued as subordinate to the integrity of ‘culture’. In fact, this is very much the norm and bears somewhat on the Trans subculture that feminists have long scrutinized, deconstructed and found wanting.

There’s a paradigm of woman-as-defective-man that goes right back to Genesis, has been perpetuated by modern intellectuals, notably Freud and continues to be reflected in today’s consumerist societies which offer a plethora of ‘fixes’ from clothes and make-up. thru feminine hygeine products and medicines to cosmetic surgery. None of these are inherently bad, and superficial relaxation of gender boundaries – driven more by capitalist market forces than humanitarian concerns, it must be noted – have meant that more men than ever are availing themselves of such. Nonetheless, gender is tied to the physicality of females – in addition to conventions of behaviour, the mode by which male gender is most regulated – and in practice this is embodied in notions of beauty; specifically and most insidiously in the notion that one can never be beautiful enough. To be a woman, then, is to submit to a lifelong regime of correction…

Moore’s ‘Brazilian Transsexuals’ analogy encapsulated this brilliantly, if controversially. What women are fed up with, she suggested (and this is my inference, mind) is an expectation that they conform to standards of womanhood created by men; with a beauty that connotes second-class citizenship, sexual availability and vulnerability.

It’s a pertinent point, and something that Trans-activists would do well to take note of. If, after many years of dissatisfaction with their prescribed gender roles they find their newly-appropriated female ones more unsatisfactory still then maybe it’s the confines of those roles they ought to be questioning – which is exactly what commentators such as Moore and Burchill are doing. If acceptable stereotypes of behaviour and dress oppress born women, then surely they must oppress Transwomen too? If an ideal standard of physical beauty excludes and frustrates a significant majority of born-women, then what chance do Transwomen stand? More sinisterly, the trappings of femininity that Transwomen co-opt mark them out as targets for male violence. The image of womanhood appealing to many men’s eyes is simply passive, accepting, penetrable: a ‘slut’ paradigm that popular media attatches to particular modes of physicality and dress but is in fact psychically pervasive beyond any such parameters. The cry of many detractors that Brazilian transsexuals are in fact, a marginalized group and subject to disproportionate levels of violence is well-made, but in directing their – intellectualized – ire at Moore and Burchill they somewhat miss the point: it’s not feminists – or indeed, women at all – who are doing the raping and the killing. One Twitter user apparently threatened to behead Suzanne Moore – many users of Brazilian transgendered prostitutes, and woman-haters at large, aren’t content with mere threats.



8 responses »

  1. “it’s not feminists – or indeed, women at all – who are doing the raping and the killing”

    Exactly! Very well said. The “trans” hoard and their death threats and threats of violence have been operating under the MSM radar for far too long. It’s time for the 24/7 news cycle to cough up a little notice about the threats of beheadings (!), invitations to “go drink bleach”, wishes that feminist women would “go die in a fire”, etc. from the “trans” mob.

    Women have had exactly ENOUGH of this abusive crap from men in drag. Enough.

    • Thanks for your comment. A problem I have, ideological conflicts aside, with accepting Transwomen as women is the all-too-apparent anti-female sentiments they express (and on occasion enact). Whether their claim to be female has any kind of biological basis – and I’m not closed to that idea, on the basis that scientific understanding is increasing all the time – is rendered moot by the aggressive posture they all-too-often adopt towards born-women. This would be troubling enough, but it’s the most aggressive elements that presume to speak for the entire Trans community and thus end up doing so by gaining the most traction within the media. On a human level I’m inclined to have the utmost sympathy for guys – and women – confounded by prescriptive – and proscriptive – gender models. But the violence of their speech and activities is unconscionable. Cotton ceiling? Whatever happened to no means no?

  2. good analysis, guls. Equalities legislation militates increasingly in favour of the powerful.And market forces are a big driver in the gender industries, as you say. Have you sent the above to the Gu or Observer as a comment or letter? (not that they’re listening)

    • Thanks for your comment, Sheela. I haven’t bothered to comment on the G or O articles because dissenting voices are mostly being deleted. I did publicise one comment in defence of Burchill – plus supportive comment of my own – via Twitter/FB though I suspect it’ll be lost amongst the tsunami of hate. The comments grabbed and posted by GallusMag were disgusting; and I wonder that said Tweeters cannot seem to grasp the irony of their defence of the persecuted. It’s doubly-depressing that several of them were posted by women.

      Today’s protest against Moore and Burchill were a victory in one sense: at least people are getting angry enough to organize, and use social media so effectively for that purpose (all 150 of them). It’s only a shame that every instance of actual violence against men, women and children doesn’t provoke such a public demonstration of outrage. Perhaps – as I’ve said elsewhere – we could look to India for an example.

      Take care,


  3. Ah, but all the corrections and improvements to which women must submit and enjoy are proof of our PRIVILEGE.

    That was bitter sarcasm, btw. I get the feeling that you understand this by reading a few of your posts, Guls. I’ve just discovered your space but I look forward to reading more. Thanks for posting.

  4. Pingback: Late contender in the hate Olympics is a long shot | musicbugsandgender

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