Monthly Archives: August 2013

Clownfish Redux

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Came across this interesting post via the ever-reliable GenderTrender, and it’s precisely this kind of thoughtful, compassionate – and most importantly, informed by personal experience – writing that refutes the all-too-popular notion that feminism is ‘anti-male’, ‘anti trans*’ or otherwise reactionary. The trans* movement is very much a liberal cause célebrè right now and – forgive me if I’m patronizing you – it’s likely that many who responded aggressively to, for instance, the Moore/Burchill Twitter spat had little knowledge of a three-decades-long conflict between liberal and radical politics which preceded it. They simply perceived a present injustice and reacted accordingly, albeit revealing the pervasiveness of sexist attitudes in the process. But those attitudes deserve confronting, politically-correctly or not, and as I commented on GT; this kind of reaction is timely, it strikes a chord even outside the obvious Radfem circles. The health and wellbeing of women is paramount, and the implications go much further: can one consider the energy crisis, overpopulation, STIs or abortion without also examining hetero-normativity and the normalization of PIV, the nuclear family, war, patriarchy…
We’re (in the UK and the US) on the brink of sending troops to another foreign nation (Syria) and Radical Feminism – whether you understand it or not – offers us the one thing that Obama, Cameron and their ilk count on us not having for our bodies and the body politic: hope for a better future free of fear, whoever we happen to be…

redressalert

My unpopular perspective is that the adoption of trans identity is frequently a trauma response. Some of the first cracks of daylight that could pierce my former ideology came from Carolyn Gage’s article on how the reality of sexual abuse can complicate FTM trans narratives (“The Inconvenient Truth about Teena Brandon,” Trivia, Issue 10, February 2010).

I recently learned that in the mid-90s, Aaron (still Holly, then) Devor even did a study suggesting that some FTM identity formation is a response to abuse, perhaps a form of dissociative identity disorder. (This resonates: approximately 2/3 of my sexual abuse support group transitioned ftm and identified as “multiple.” This was years after I detransitioned but before I really got what it had meant in the first place.) The study interviews FTMs and specifically some who are trained therapists. According to Devor, “all three of the participants who were therapists mentioned that…

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Man up…

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…except don’t 😉

Repeat until sane…

‘How many boys have to kill themselves … how many women have to be abused, how many trans* people have to get assaulted … [2.48] Heartening to hear a man lay the responsibility for sexism at the right front door…

‘…Miller Lite is not the most flavourful brew…’ [1.32] got that rite [sic] 😉

‘Nobody says WOman up [1.55] they just imply it … because being directly ordered around by commercials, magazines and music is dehumanizing … when will men figure that out?’
Now there’s a question…

‘I want to be strong in a way that isn’t about physical dominance or power, MAN UP! …’

Butthurt and blinded

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Bit late to the table with this one – intervention of life and relationships, yada yada – but here goes…

Suzanne Moore is castigatated for being funny and clever with it…

I didn’t manage to trawl thru all 21 pages of the pompous, middle-class male, faux-outrage dominating the comments, but I got the gist that around 50% of the replies warranted ‘This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.’ – I wonder why?

Misogyny and misandry are not equivalent; operative action and reaction. To present sexism as a two-way street is to willfully ignore the fact that the traffic on one side is denser, faster-moving and driven by psychopaths. This is a fundamental flaw in the liberal agenda, exemplified by a plethora of comments along the lines of

‘If someone had written an article about things not to do with your vagina would this also be acceptable? Grauniad (sic) I expect better’ (from poster Steve Bagley).

A ‘sexist joke’ directed at a man/men is just that: we (as men) can safely assume that it’s not the thin end of a wedge with real-life discrimination, violence and death on the thick end (Rape banter anyone? yep, that’s a real thing) Which is not to say that men don’t routinely face the threat and actuality of violence; rather to admit that such threats and violences are most often offered and perpetrated by other males, just as violence against women most often is.

‘If only more men would remember not to rape. It’s a great shame how many seem to forget.’ (TristanJakobHoff)

The likelihood of Suzanne Moore or her journalism hurting anyone is surely as remote as, well, the likelihood of Julie Burchill or her journalism hurting anyone.

(Clearly, their Twitter spat with Trans*activists/supporters is fresh in the minds of certain  Guardian posters:

’11) Do not assume everyone with a penis is a man, or vice versa. (Hyosho).)

Perhaps a better-grounded assumption might be that anyone with a penis – and particularly in situations where penis-exposure is unexpected and unwarranted – might present as a threat? A girlfriend recently related to me a couple incidents of indecent exposure, prior to which she’d assured herself she could have responded to such an encounter with an eye-roll and a witty riposte. In the event, she was plain scared and, as such, rendered voiceless; impotent, if you will… As it happens, said exposed organs were attached to self-identified males. though – and I digress momentarily to inform readers that my girlfriend isn’t psychic – had the perpetrators identified as trans*women it’s debatable whether the concomitant and immediate sense of threat would have been significantly reduced, if at all.

If Moore‘s satire on this occasion, isn’t terribly sophisticated it surely has the undeniable ring of truth? As such, how much mileage in dancing around the truth with measured nicety?

‘Yep. It’s hilarious how many (presumably male) posters take issue with a woman telling men what to do, when articles from men telling women – albeit generally more subtly – what to do are a daily occurrence. It’s generally not remarked upon when a man writes a non-factual article on, say, abortion – you certainly don’t get five pages of enraged comments from women about how dare a man tell them what to do with their bodies…

…they’re all true and reasonable requests. So the angry commentators are basically just saying how dare a woman have an opinion on the matter. (Pavanne)

Like Jamie Kilstein, Moore plays switcheroo with familiar tropes of male sexism in order to point up how ludicrous (and harmful) they actually are. As was the case with Kilstein, men dominate the backlash. And they are no more responsible for fomenting misandry thru their satirical musings than Janice Raymond and her ilk are responsible for generating Trans*misogyny by way of their intellectual analysis. And intellectual is a key word here. Writers of all stripes are right to presume a level of intelligence in their readership and argue accordingly, comedically or otherwise. In their over-egged responses, said readership only expose theirs – and their parent-societies’ – prejudices (and weaknesses),

Opus Eponymous: In the Presence of ‘The Enemy…’

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First things first: the Dream Theater pre-order is now open. But if you’re a fan, you probably know that 😉 With over a month to go the band have released a trailer in the form of The Enemy Inside…

Truth be told, this shows the facet of DT‘s repertoire I like the least. When Radiohead said ‘anyone can play guitar’ they were perhaps being a little tongue in cheek – and certainly not everyone can play guitar like John Petrucci – but this kind of ‘speed metal for radio’ doesn’t really do justice to the embarrassment of musical talent in the DT camp. In spite of protestations that the band have been masters of their own musical destiny – most notably since Scenes from a Memory (1999) – there have been occasional signs that the band have tweaked their sound to appeal to a more mainstream/trendy metal/rock audience – Never Enough (very Muse), The Dark Eternal Night (pseudo-‘Death growls’, A Rite of Passage and strayed from the essence of their sound in the process. This sounds like another one of those times to me. …Enemy… is a very pedestrian slice of metal by DT standards: fast-paced, suitably-shredding, dizzyingly-widdly but finally not that memorable.

Previous excursions into full-on metal – most notably with Awake (1994), Train of Thought (2003) and Systematic Chaos (2007) – remain the weakest episodes in DT’s career to date, in my opinion anyway.

I didn’t miss Mike Portnoy‘s playing on A Dramatic Turn of Events at all, but I do on this song – I think his ‘manic Moon’ splashes and fills would have lifted this song in a way that Mike Mangini‘s precise yet predictable batterie doesn’t. And Jordan Rudess is criminally underused here. When his solo spot arrives at 4.43 my heart almost skips a beat, but then it settles back down pretty quickly when I realise I’ve heard these kinda figures done before, and better.

It’s a shame, because I don’t think this song will either sate the appetite of established fans or win them any new ones. This is a crucial album for them in many ways and they need to impress. Much as the lacklustre A Rite of Passage (accompanied, like …Enemy… by a pretty lame video clip) didn’t put me off pre-ordering Black Clouds and Silver Linings this won’t stop me going ahead and purchasing Dream Theater but it has dampened my enthusiasm a little. ADToE came on the back of two albums that only really shone half the time, sporting a freshness and economy of writing that put it up there with the band’s best work. I’m looking for more in the remainder of the tracks, and I doubt I’ll be entirely disappointed, but lets wait and see…