Monthly Archives: April 2014

Red letter day

Standard

Copied and pasted from RadFemsRespond

‘Hi,

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve decided to renege on your contract to allow this meeting to take place at Multnomah Quaker Meeting House. As a person who has been questioning my own need to transition I found the idea of Gender Critical thinking quite empowering. It’s frustrating to me that it had to come from a group that is so hated in the trans community. I feel like a lot of people who are in a similar position to me would benefit greatly from it. Despite what most of the Trans* community would say about it, there is almost certainly some truth to the idea. People can and do detransition, it is not some unbeatable ailment that can only be solved by either changing your body or committing suicide. This is a false choice that almost led to my own ruin. There are others like me, and I am confident in time we will see this more and more given the incredibly complex and nebulous nature of this… I don’t even know what to call it that would not offend someone.

And that’s really the problem, there is just too much going on here for any one person or group to really get a handle on it. Right now the screening process is almost 100% self-determined. I live in an informed consent state so that is the literal truth. I know the names of 4 psychologists In my area that I could go to and get a prescription for hormones. While I believe people should be able determine what they want to do with their own bodies this just reveals how little we know about the Trans* experience.

I’m not saying there is some magical cure for the opaque condition of ‘gender dysphoria’; I am still tempted to go get on those hormones. I have been battling with myself about this for a long time. I wish someone could tell me whether I really have a Trans identity or not, but I am the only one who can really decide that. This is the struggle of every trans person. There is no ‘brain-sex’ that has been discovered. Differences in male and female brains have been shown to be small with huge variances in actual behavior for individuals. While there have been a few brain scan studies they show that even cis-identified people often don’t match with their hypothetical ‘brain-sex’. With no possible biological test all we are left with is cues from behavior that are influenced by social condition more than anything else. I have found from my own personal experience that my own sense of dysphoria comes primarily from these social pressures.

This is not to say that every trans person feels this way but I know there must be more like me. Just the fact that there are more MtF transitioners to FtM transitioners seems to bare this out. It is more socially acceptable for a female to act male than for a male to act female. To do so is an attack on the gender hierarchy, this is simply not how things are supposed to work. Many MtF people like to claim that ‘butch’ women are really closeted FtM trans people. While I can’t speak for anyone but myself I can’t imagine those butch females like being ‘misgendered’ any more than a trans person would.

My experience is of someone who is searching for the cause of my feelings. For people like me gender critical thinking can open up a whole new world. There are many people now who claim to have ‘nonbinary’ gender which is a way to say they are between genders. Gender critical thinking dispells the illusion of gender and shows that we are all nonbinary in the basic sense. This is an empowering statement for anyone who is sick of our current gender hierarchy no matter what birth sex they are. Furthermore it is the only logical conclusion when all the current conflicting and confused research about gender is taken into account.

Why do the studies fail to produce a coherent picture of what determines one’s ‘gender identity’? It could simply be that gender is a false construct we have all bought into due to generations of social conditioning. In my personal experience this seems to be the case. I simply don’t like being limited by my gender role although as a born male I understand I have it on the good side of the gender hierarchy.

Before I continue I want to point out that I don’t feel like every single trans person needs to be blocked from transitioning. There are some who do have various biological conditions that are well known about and studied. The best example of this would be intersexed children, who are the most obvious exceptions. It does also seem possible that there may be some epigenetic causes that may produce a more physically feminine boy or more masculine girl. In fact, it is my pet theory that these small epigenetic differences snowball when gender socialization takes place. Usually upon entering public school, these people with perfectly fine, slightly more masculine or feminine biology are picked on and made to conform. This is not because they are ‘really’ a man in a woman’s body or vice versa. They simply don’t entirely conform to a man-made social construction. When these people decide to transition they are giving into the myth of gender being an innate quality and not a learned one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digit_ratio

Notice the link between Trans people and digit ratios. This has nothing to due with ones’ brain being in the wrong body. It has to do with a body being in the wrong society.

From the article:
“There’s more difference between a Pole and a Finn, than a man and a woman.”

I know this is all controversal. It has to be because no one knows for sure about any of this. There are also many mental disorders that can cause one to develop a trans identity that have little to do with any of the social/biological issues I’ve brought up above. This is all off the top of my head honestly. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. I take this criticism seriously, as should any trans person who really wants to honor what their movement is fighting for. I would like to be able to know more about this but people who question their transitions or decide to detransition are often marginalized in the Trans community. Many are considered fake or ‘TERF sock puppets’ (that’s me apparently). It is sad that only the most ardent and extreme critics of the trans movement have enough clout to actually be heard through the chaos and self-aggrandizing of the current forms of internet-based ‘discussion’.

I have no hate for trans people. In fact I love them and sympathize with them. I have shared many of their struggles and done the same type of soul searching. I know how comforting the thought of simply being a woman trapped in a man’s body can be. A part of me still hopes this is the case. It would make my life so much simpler. All I would have to do is change myself, like I have been my whole life in order to fit other people’s expectations of me; namely as a male who dominates women and does other manly things to commoditize all of existence.

So, like most other trans people I began that process of trying to pass, ironically I went by the mantra “I’m being the real me!” At first this was true, by simply rejecting my hetero-normity I did feel like I was becoming ‘more me’. So I kept it up, going slowly. I felt better about myself, lost a lot of weight, shaved my beard. I set a date to go ‘full-time’ and starting training my voice. This is where the wheels started to fall off. I found a lot of speech pathology is learning to mimic the cadence and inflection of a female voice. Many training programs suggested finding a specific female who’s voice you wanted to sound like and copy their voice. In many voice pathology classes one is also taught to learn female gestures and facial expressions. Suddenly “I’m being more me” didn’t quite hold up. I was just changing one form of socialization for another. I began to really question everything.

During a night of listless google searching I found myself reading stuff I was agreeing. Turns out it was written by these people called ‘Radical Feminists’ who I knew were known as TERFs and obviously hated me and wanted me to kill myself. I didn’t look away and soon found Rachel Ivy’s presentation: “The End of Gender”. It set my world on fire. I saw everything differently, I realized how blind I had been. I wasn’t the one who needed to change my body, it was society that needed to change it’s judgment of me and everyone else. This was the root cause of my suffering and is the beating heart of the radical feminist movement.

I would love to be able to say I’m just an oppressed transwoman and all these radfems are just hating on me because I was born a man. But I know that isn’t true, even if that were the case there is enough substance here that it cannot be ignored. Many radfems are angry and have said hateful things about trans people, but the same can be said of trans people against radical feminists. TERF is very much a slur, it has all the effects of a slur. It is entirely a put-down meant to silence a thought that cannot be debated away rationally. I know I had read more about TERFs being nazi-like borderline gay-conversion Christians than I had ever read about their true thoughts, reasoning, or even their stated views.

Not all radfems are made the same and neither are all trans people. In the past this discussion has been very polarizing and personal but it is a needed one. For this reason having an open discussion can only help us. This goes beyond ‘bickering’ this is a fundamental question of our time. I think there is much room on both sides for more understanding. This issue will shape the future of both the feminist and the trans movement. It is up to us to make that future one we can all share and want to be a part of.

Sincerely,
/u/lovingLilith

PS Here’s my own story as I posted it on reddit:

http://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/21vhyl/mtf_detransitioning_after_5_mo_hrt_you_radfems/’

The no-platforming of gender-critical writing in the mainstream media (and debate in the world at large) points up an issue we have yet to come to terms with. That a radical feminist organ published this – admittedly-waffly and rife-with-contradiction – letter proves a point: the point of RFR. They are open to dialogue. The antithesis of ‘hate-speech’, which seeks only to use words as a weapon….

Get the full story here

Advertisements

The post-modern penis…

Standard

…or indeed, the post modern-vagina

Seems the dagger and the scabbard have become interchangeable in this age of unreason. Who knew? Call  me old-fashioned but as a language-aficionado I like our words to mean something, and if the one word has multiple meanings at least let them not be contradictory….

For since records began ‘the tail has been male’: but no longer, it seems…

Bollocks, I say.

Linguistic disconnect evidences real-life disconnect: and disconnect is a core value of the male-centric socio-political system that led up to this violent, confused shitheap of a world which so many of its citizens seem so desperate to change; except no one can agree how, or what, or if it’s even possible.  Rape culture; animal torture; climate change; racism; war: connection? What connection?

Lib-fem-po-mo-trans-culture isn’t merely redefining language; it’s redefining the way we interact with out world. Or rather, it’s redefining – as in reducing – the power we feel we have to positively interact with our world. It’s old, conservative wine with a none-more-trendy, liberal label.

The Emperoress is resplendent in his her Kirsty Ward wardrobe. Look! No penis!

 

Pono-mo revision #622

Standard

How far the mighty have fallen

…and honestly, how far can you trust a man with a 50-year history of rockin’ it live as an arbiter of sound quality? If your nose is twitching to the pulse of marketing BS, there’s probably a reason for that…

Further reading…

 

 

Standard

As mentioned in my previous post, 2014 heralds the release of Pixies’ first LP in over two decades, and I can’t pretend I’m not excited. A few tracks osmosised via 6Music and thru the hubbub of my works kitchen aside, I’ve assiduously avoided hearing anything from the new record, though: I haven’t even dragged the download of EP3 that came bundled with my advance purchase of the all-singing, all-dancing special edition out of the download box into my media library.

Why? The closing clause in this Steven Hyden article for Grantland, sums it up neatly enough ‘…because my [anticipated] disappointment in what they’ve become has more to do with me than with them.’ The same might be said of the second Star Wars trilogy, or my assessment – see also my previous post – of the last Opeth album. Hot on the heels of the realization that George Lucas/Pixies/Opeth are not the same people today that they were when they recorded their most treasured artifacts comes the secondary one that we are not the same people either. This makes for a complicated, fragmented relationship with our favoured artists’ ever-expanding catalogs of work, tainted by nostalgia and changing expectations.

When Hyden writes ‘I would guess that before the Pixies’ reunion in 2004 (and the subsequent run of endless tours in the decade since), the majority of the group’s fans had never seen them live. Much of the Pixies’ fan base got into the band after it broke up in 1993.’ he could be writing about me, or as good as: I ‘discovered’ the Pixies around the time Trompe Le Monde was released.

‘If all that mattered were the music, I wouldn’t even bother writing about Indie Cindy. It is thoroughly pedestrian, exceptionally unexceptional, and spectacularly slight. But I am writing about Indie Cindy, and the reason is, it is the first full-length album by the Pixies since 1991’s Trompe le Monde. Like that, Indie Cindy suddenly seems important. If lifestyle reporting didn’t exist, Indie Cindy would have virtually no reason to exist, either…

…Curiously, the baggage that justifies Indie Cindy’s existence also ensures it will be regarded as being much worse than it actually is. Judged solely as a self-released MOR rock record made by musicians in their late forties and early fifties who haven’t worked together in a creative fashion for nearly a quarter century, Indie Cindy is merely inoffensive. But as a Pixies record, it’s easily the worst entry in a celebrated discography. The more you love the other Pixies LPs, the less you’ll be able to tolerate Indie Cindy.’

This pretty much sums up my feelings re Heritage as I was writing yesterday, and it was this realization that prompted me to listen to it again mid review and soften my verdict. The music hadn’t changed but my relationship to it had, along with my way of listening and my apprehension of myself.

I’m sure I will tolerate Indie Cindy well enough, but I never became a fan by merely tolerating my favourite bands.In my 20s it seemed that they reached out and grabbed me: these days it seems like the job of reaching out is mine, and on occasion I feel a great reluctance to do so, for fear of falling out of love? Teachable moment is the popular vernacular, I believe.

Truth is I don’t really expect Pixies to ever sound as vital as this again:

Just as I don’t ever expect Opeth to record anything as vital as this now:

So really there’s nothing to be disappointed about, is there? And no shortage new music to be heard for what it is. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say…

 

Dark Eternal Might

Standard

Opeth have been, over the past decade-and-a-half, one of the most consistently interesting exponents of heavy rock music. Within the broad genre of extreme metal – itself a challenging, exciting and ever evolving scene – they’ve nonetheless stood out for some time, with a run of albums from Blackwater Park (2000) thru to Watershed (2008) that remain unbeatable. If Heritage (2011) fell a little short of that high watermark (to my ears anyway) it wasn’t for lack of ambition; rather that the band’s decision to scale back on the brutality and channel their love of smokey, retro psychedelia and acid folk robbed the songs of the light/dark dynamics that appealed to me in the first place. Much of that record I found initially discordant, meandering and forgettable. And Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s Death growls, which upon my introduction to the band back in the early 2000’s I had found impenetrable and initially off-putting, I found myself missing a great deal; and whilst his ‘clean’ singing voice is also a beautiful thing, woody and melancholic, he seemed to have misplaced his knack for writing memorable melodies and compelling song structures too.

As it happens, my appreciation for that album has grown over time: there are echoes of latter-day Talk Talk and Scott Walker in its subtle twists and turns; its complex, off-kilter rhythms that repeat listening has teased out. It’s actually a fine record in many ways, if one that – perversely, given the significant reduction in metal extremity – remains their most ‘difficult’ listen. So it was with some relief that I read in a recent interview that the upcoming (June 16th) release of Pale Communion marks a return to a ‘more melodic’ style, to quote Åkerfeldt, who elaborated ‘…I spent a lot of time on vocal lines’.  It also has ‘…a darker and heavier overall vibe than its predecessor’ according to Prog Magazine. Good news all round, then.

Read Greg Kennelty of Metal Injection‘s track-by-track-taster of Pale Communion here

(Though, as with the Åkerfeldt/Åkersson interview below, the album title and track-listing  had yet to be finalized at the time of publication).

Feel free to amuse yourself guessing which song titles correspond to the descriptions above.

Eternal Rains Will Come
Cusp of Eternity
Moon Above, Sun Below
Elysian Woes
Goblin
River
Voice of Treason
Faith in Others

P.s. whilst perusing the Metal Injection page, I chanced upon Mastodon‘s latest single release, High Road

This sounds fantastic! Effortlessly combining the bowel-stirring sludginess of their early albums with the instant hook of last album The Hunter without sacrificing the harmonic complexity and nuance of Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye. The Atlantans are a canny and ambitious lot, for sure. If the rest of the album is up to this standard our ears are in for a treat this summer. In the meantime I’m expecting Indy Cindy (Pixies‘ first new album in 20 years) to land on my doorstep in just over a week. Happy days 🙂

 

Degenderate Trend

Standard

Bit late to the party, so to speak, but look: GenderTrender has been suspended again! (scroll down to the comments section).

GT, for those unfamiliar. is a blog with a somewhat unfashionable stance on Gender politics, its proprietor, GallusMag choosing to frame her reportage on current affairs thru the lens of sex rather than the currently-popular language of gender identity.

The last story featured on said, prior to administrator, GallusMag being locked out of her own blog, concerned the case of Dana McCallum, recently charged with five felony counts, including Rape, False Imprisonment and Domestic Assault. Whether the suspension related to that post in particular, or the style and content of GT in general, one can only guess.

Framing McCallum’s (alleged) crime as female-on-female  (rather than male-on-female) indubitably alters readers’ perception of said crime; rendering it freakish on the one hand  (do women actually do that stuff? Surely not!) whilst simultaneously playing to both liberal – literal – oversimplifications of equality, and conservative suspicion of women. The latter two add up to the same thing:  in an ‘equal’ world, we’d both be as nasty as each other. Cynical at best; disingenuous, and still cynical, at worst. A woman accused of violent – and especially sexually-violent – crime is frequently subject to a doubly-potent judgement: guilty not merely of a crime not merely beyond the pale in a supposedly civilised society but also of transgressing her supposedly passive and nurturing rôle. This works against (so-called) cis-women but (covertly) in favour of trans*women, who liberals outwardly support (on principle of their much-vaunted, albeit specious hyper-oppressed status) but whose gender they – also covertly – doubt, since they also grew up sodden with the ‘hormone wash’ of gender (as understood by second-wavers). Clusterfuck is the word, and the last thing anybody with a modicum of agency wants is for you us to understand.

When – the male-defined society’s ideal of – marriage (or indeed, any analogous relationship) breaks down, cohabitants have a habit of substituting reason for emotion in their dealings with their estranged partner. Certain ex-partners might throw their former spouse out – if they haven’t already fled for pastures new – sell their Iron Maiden catalog via eBay or pour paint thinners on their car: others might stalk, threaten or attack their ex; set their former home on fire; kill or attack their children…* there’s a general pattern to the severity of their response, and it tallies uncannily with the binary classification of people preferred by GallusMag and GenderTrender.

McCallum is an employee of Twitter. Whether S/he was about to come into some money or not, Twitter is still, at present, a force to be reckoned with in online social media. It doesn’t need bad publicity right now. WordPress – and its bloggers – depend on Twitter and other sharing apps for consciousness-penetration. Nepotism is a prevalent – and at lest in part, patriarchal – force in industry. Join the dots, folks…

Despite recent-historical legal improvements made in the handling of sex-assault investigations, ‘the system’ is still fatally-loaded in favour of the accused. Days ago, Tory MP Nigel Evans was acquitted of a series of 7 allegations. Even – generously – allowing a 50/50 ‘benefit-of-the-doubt’ ratio for/against, the statistical chance of him being innocent of all 7 charges (or rather, of 7 witnesses independently accusing him of the same kind of offence) works out at .0078125, or, less than 1%. This less reflects the ‘no smoke without fire’ cliché, than it confirms a generalized failure on the part of the public to believe in sexual assault as a normal fault/consequence of patriarchal modes of human relation. Rape (and violence in general) are depressingly normal, yet we wish to believe them exceptional, requiring proof – even as we privately acknowledge such proof to be empirically impossible to procure – of their reality. Is Evans guilty? Is McCallum? I can’t answer that. What I can say is that their guilt would fall within the parameters of ‘normal’ male behaviours. The fly in the ointment is that we have been persuaded – propagandized – into believing that such behaviour is not in fact, normal, or indeed, as common as witness testimony would lead us to believe . We have to apprehend our condition truthfully if we are to fix it.

It’s a true indictment of our societies that reportage such as GallusMag‘s is read as controversial and worthy of censorship. One can only guess at their motives; but in the absence of proper information, guess we will. GallusMag sits within a tradition of conscious dissent that spirals back thru the likes of Copernicus, Joan of Arc, John Stuart Mill, Jenny Bonett and Germaine Greer – women, and the occasional man – who just won’t toe the party line. The internet was meant to make this shit easier, wasn’t it? It makes it easier for the dissenters to consolidate, for sure; it also makes it easier for the haters to hate, to bully. Who do you want to win? Is oiling the gears and keeping the peace more important than telling the truth? Is the medium your message?

Whilst at school, I did – to my shame now – laugh at all the homophobic jokes; even as wearing my hair long exposed me to ridicule and hurt. I’ve questioned my masculinity; but never my maleness; not even after sex with men. I understand the difference between sex and gender. It’s not even a fine line.

Like ‘misgendered’ vs raped: upset vs physically assaulted. Does McCallum’s feel ex any more or less injured for her alleged assailant ‘identifying’ as female? A recent UK case suggested our legal system was all for treating female sex offenders who identified as male as if they were just that? Does this work in reverse? In the US? Worldwide?

This is what the WWW is for, folks.

Grasp the nettle. Say what you think. What you feel.

 

 

*apologies, that link is no good – the programme in question is no longer available on iPlayer. In brief, it’s a documentary about sex offenders including a guy who started molesting his ten-year-old sons to get back back at his wife whom he suspected of cheating on him. This kind of behaviour is, by many accounts not uncommon and is highlighted in Louise Armstrong’s 1994 study on incest, Rocking The Cradle of Sexual Politics. I’ll try to find a new link for the doc, or another suitable case.