Feminist Theory & "Women's Issues" Discussion Thread: All Gender Identities Are Encouraged To Participate

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Something of a companion thread to Feminist Blogs/Communities I Have Known... but less focused on blogs.

Also a space where we can have multi-gendered dialogue from the outset, so we don't have any confusion.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 22:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm v v confused about gender and what it all means but that's p inherent in the discussion I guess?

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

Well, yeah - I purposefully phrased the title in a way that allows for those whose identity is not always recognised. I was initially going to include queer theory in the thread concept, as I've recently found myself with groups where feminism and queer politics are completely intertwined, but I don't feel that I should be the person to say whether or not this is a good place to discuss that.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Actually, "completely" is not true. I think that would be impossible. But they work closely together, a lot.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Ha ha no, I understood what you meant in naming the title that, I like the inclusivity of it. I'm mostly confused by mine own gender and ~what it means~ and always have been so I was just pointing out that confusion is inherent in the process for some ppl. (as recognised by the title)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes. I've never felt like "I'm really a boy" but performatively I often feel more akin to males. But then, that's based around the socially constructed sides of gender, so it's less confusion, more rejection. I didn't always understand that, mind you.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

not to get all graduate seminar on this thread but: do we have a good definition of "gender" that isn't culturally essentialist? I'm sure it's out there but my reading in Feminist/Queer/etc theory is lacking. I don't necessarily have a problem with a culturally essentialist reading of gender, but i'd be interested in alternatives. For instance, where and when does the cultural proscribed notions of gender we have run up against actually being attached to, say, a penis? And how do you talk about this intersection without bogus and lame biological essentialism?

ryan, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

I really want to look at this question, because not having a satisfying answer to it is one reason why I'm really unhappy defining groups of people as 'men' and 'women' and setting policy accordingly.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

I certainly know that most working definitions of gender are crude and essentialist and problematic. I get that. But when talking about many of the blunt force issues I have to confront, I know the people who are perpetuating this shit on me are male bodied ppl who identify as male and a huge part of the reason they were doing it to me was because they perceived me as female and had a specific set of assumptions about what that meant, so it's really hard not tp talk about this stuff without using the shorthand no matter how clumsy it is. Otherwise you end up mumbling vague shut about kierarchy (lord knows how my iPhone will render that) and no one outside a graduate program knows what you're on about.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's a great point. I think one of the challenges in getting people to accept something like cultural determination of gender is that their first line of defense is a reductio ad absurdum like "is my penis [or whatever] culturally constructed?!?"

it's similar to the "well I know my grandpa wasn't a monkey" defense against evolution.

I think, at bottom, there's an enormous amount of anxiety that goes into gender identity (one might even say this is the entire purpose of gender) that's gonna always leads to exactly the kind of hysteria you see in homophobia and the like. so defusing that anxiety remains, i think, a big part of the goal.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Like Deborah Cameron said in a debate I saw, utterly demolishing that Baron-Cohen "male brain" prick with her magnificent logic "The fact that women give birth is not in any way a Societal Construct. But what it ~MEANS~ that women give birth is completely a Societal Construct"

<3 D-Camz so hard, she cuts through so much of that Mars/Venus guff so effectively.

But um yeah, anxiety around gender is so damaging.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

I can see that a lot of the time the shorthand is unavoidable, but what I'm afraid of - in myself and others - is letting the shorthand frame the debate. I see so many people embracing these powerful narratives about what it means to be male or female, that exclude people's real experiences in horrible, damaging ways. In a space like this, where we can afford to be nuanced perhaps more than elsewhere, it would be cool if we could approach it with that in mind - and WCC I'd love to hear some of that grad school stuff if you can explain it to a psych graduate with little to no study of sociology under her belt.

I'm too tired to talk properly now, but anyway let it be known that I am very much looking forward to getting into this stuff with ILX0rs and I'm *grateful* for the clusterfuck.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 00:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

Hey just remember I didn't go to grad school, I'm an art school dropout I picked up much of this stuff in the library and on the web and from a friend who is doing a PhD in feminist linguistics or sociolinguistics or whatever it's called. I sm not an expert.

I get tongue tied up in this bcuz so much of my *need* for feminism comes from not conforming to trad expectations of "woman" and wanting to widen up the definitions of "woman" when maybe I should be getting rid of gender entirely? But back when I was 20 queer theorists didn't want to talk to me (bcuz bisexuality or pansexuality didnt ~exist~ back then as far as those individuals were concerned) but feminist theorists did so that's where I ended up.

I always want to widen the idea of "woman" not narrow it but that has a tension with the desire for a safe space bcuz who defines or owns the idea of woman? It's a recognized tension, we have to work to resolve.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

Sorry to go off topic, but I'm so tempted to take this out of context: <3 D-Camz so hard. You love David Cameron! You love David Cameron!

Back on topic, yes, grad-school discussion is more than welcome from my perspective: I know bits and pieces, from A Level Sociology, lit theory, and philosophy, but I could definitely do with more thinkers to pursue and avenues to contemplate.

emil.y, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

"A Level Sociology" is one clause there, I progressed some way beyond that in the latter two disciplines, ha. (Not braggin', just sayin')

emil.y, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

Deborah Cameron. Don't get over excited.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

what I like about that Deborah Cameron quote (i should look her up) is that it nicely points out that yes there is biology and whatnot but that we can't TALK or THINK about this stuff except within the parameters of MEANING...you'd dont get to crawl outside of cultural meaning using a ladder called "biology" or whatever.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

so yes there is an "outside" or limit to culture/meaning but we only have access to it as a kind of negative capability.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

gender's odd. it's clearly a cultural construct, both in a hazy, general sense that exists outside any specific individual and in the various ways we all individually (re)construct & perceive it. but that's not all it is. unlike "race", there's a substantial biological component to gender. of course, as others itt have pointed out, we can only understand what this might mean at several levels of remove, as filtered through a thicket of complex constructions from which we can't even sensibly hope to extricate our perspectives.

i'm biologically male. for better or worse, i find that my subjective experience of gendered-ness squares pretty well with what my culture seems to describe as generic masculinity. i deviate from what i take to be the "masculine norm" in all sorts of ways, some trivial, some quite dramatic, but i assume that this is true of most everyone (everyone worth knowing, anyway), and i'm pretty happy with the space i've carved out between cultural expectations and the seemingly gendered aspects of my own internal landscape.

unfashionable as it may be to say, it seems to me that biological gender drives a great deal of human behavior and that these drivings do sometimes reciprocate those "dubious" cultural constructs we've inherited. men, for example, seem in general to be more openly and aggressive than women, to the extent that male violence is a serious problem the world over. would say the same with varying degrees of confidence about things like female nurturance and consensus-building, male vs female approaches to competition and "mating behavior", masculine self-sufficiency, etc.

while biological gender is generally self-evident, gender identification can only by known when it is communicated. we know that someone identifies as female when they tell us so. we also know that that the things people say aren't always true. perhaps for this reason, i suspect that many of us would have trouble accepting the presence of an apparently straight-normative biological male in a women's bathroom or domestic violence shelter simply on the basis of her reassurance that it's ok because she "identifies as female". much as we might like to reduce all gender to pliable constructs, it can be very hard to let go of the last shreds of biological essentialism.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 09:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

i am glad this thread is here.

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Monday, 13 February 2012 09:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

agreed

tmi but (Z S), Monday, 13 February 2012 10:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

Any time that anyone starts going on about the "substantial biological component to gender" I just want to refer them to Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine and Pink Brain Blue Brain by Lise Elliott (sp?) and just carry on repeating - outside the obvious physical documented secondary sexual characteristics (the girl/boy lego) the actual measurable differences in cognition, in brain function, in all that stuff that matters are TINY. Not only that, but even with the DOCUMENTED and measurable differences (for example, height) - the variation WITHIN each gender is often FAR GREATER than the "difference" between genders.

This isn't just one or two outlier studies suggesting this. There are HUGE bodies of work on this. Analysis. Meta-analysis. Meta analysis of meta analysis. The OUTLIER studies which suggest men's and women's brains are from different planets are the ones that get all the attention BECAUSE THEY ARE OUTLIERS. And they are often NOT replicable. Which is your guaranteed sign of being NOT SCIENCE.

I'm not just "deferring to a authority" here. I am saying, there is shitloads of evidence on this one if you even scratch the surface of doing research on it. There is, like, "Climate change is a real thing" levels of evidence on this one. And I'm just saying, in advance, that if anyone is going to continue to insist that gender is a ~biological~ thing, I'm going to treat them like a climate change denier, and just not engage with nonsense.

Gender is a construct. Just because something is a construct does not mean it is not *meaningful* or that it does not have real world consequences. (Money is also a construct, but try doing without that one in western society.) But construct means "we made up the rules" and it also means "other societies or other possible societies can put the rules in different places and in different orders." (Try walking into a shop in England and buying something with an American dollar. Money is a construct that means different things in different places.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 12:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

that seems very otm. people who talk about aspects of humanity that are "outside of culture" shd probably point to some examples of humans that exist outside of culture. good luck with that.

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 13:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

I had to get off line to compose the next bit so this is a continuation of the previous bit, rather than a response to you, NV, but here goes:

i find that my subjective experience of gendered-ness squares pretty well with what my culture seems to describe as generic masculinity. i deviate from what i take to be the "masculine norm" in all sorts of ways, some trivial, some quite dramatic, but i assume that this is true of most everyone

This is the problematic bit with the whole "biological" conception of gender. It's not biological at all, it's what your culture says is "masculine."

And if you, as a Western (I think you're North American?) man who conforms fairly well to your culture's expectations of masculinity were suddenly dropped into, e.g. Ancient Sparta, you would be thought of as an effeminate wimp or e.g. 18th Century French Court you would be thought of as a rude uncultured boer (bore? boar?) who needed to sort out a more masculine wig immediately.

For *me* (specific, personal) the problem is not whether someone identifies with their visible biological gender (though I recognise for many, many people this is a completely valid problem and source of oppression) it's how arbitrary the divisions into "masculine" and "feminine" are - how *brutally* they are policed - and policed in the service or protection of *whom*?

But those are conversations you can't really have without the entry of that nebulous concept of kierarchy (which spell check tells me isn't even a word.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

idk i'm kindof with that and not with it.

i know trans guys who have talked about the really visceral physico-psychological feelings of taking testosterone for the first time. and pretty much anyone who has ever been a teenager probably knows that hormones tend to do things to you. and yeah there are varying degrees of testosterone and oestrogen. and the binary of gender is culturally substantiated.

i mean i don't want to be misunderstood, this is not to say that we can understand some set of biological imperatives, primordial urges. i think its closer to what monique wittig meant when somebody asked her if she had a vagina and she said "no." i mean maybe i should explain that monique wittig was a lesbian and concluded that as she was a lesbian, she was not a woman because woman is something that is constructed within heterosexist gender relations. she's not insane, she wasn't denying that physiologically her body corresponds to a female body, but that the the body itself is something that is constructed by language and culture. still though, the matrix of signification is not one that is closed at the level of "culture" but that bodies are *part* of culture. folds of sensations, particular materialities, pleasures, warmth, movements, hormones. its not that these things are anterior to culture but it isn't the other way around either.

judith, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah sorry i certainly wasn't trying to privilege culture-and-nothing-else, just reflecting that the links are inextricable and not reducible to "this but not that" arguments

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 13:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

<I>"The problem with the word 'vagina' is that vaginas seem to be just straight-out bad luck. Only a masochist would want one, because only awful things happen to them. Vaginas get torn. Vaginas get ‘examined’. Evidence is found in them. Serial killers leave things in them, to taunt Morse . . . No one wants one of those."</I>

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

Though obviously my inability to click the "Convert Simple HTML to BBcode" button is due to Evolutionary Psychology.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah but that whole "men are just biologically different because: hormones!" ignores the fact that women also have a set of those exact chemicals sloshing around our bodies (except doctors call them androgens we have them) and not to mention the fact that it's even sometimes sold as a pseudo health concern by the kind of behavior police-y magazines all "OMG do you have an interest in maps and systems thinking? You might suffer from too much testosterone giving you ~male brain~ oh noes panic!" (This was an actual article I read in the launderette.)

And how things get interpreted like - I dunno, maybe I have an endocrine malfunction I should get checked out bcuz I totally get very male-coded aggro if I'm driving a car I get v aggressive about defending my territory (one of many reasons I don't drive) but when men do that, they have "testosterone" as their excuse but If I'm being all competitive in that pissing contest sense and male-coded, do I just do it bcuz I missed that particular bit of training in how to be ladylike? Or can I blame my ~androgens~?

I don't buy the "it's hormones" excuse entirely

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

I type so much less coherently when I'm on an iPhone. Don't know if the little screen makes me male brain or iv it's just the lack of ability to see the whole post to sense check it. That was almost incoherent. Sorry.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

that can apply to "personality" across the board tho. western society is increasingly big on medicalising personality in general - "are you like this? maybe the chemicals in your body need readjustment". there are maybe models for personality that rely less on societal norms - we can think about people's personal goals or happiness, ask whether their behaviours are self-limiting or destructive in some way - but a lot of hormonal/brain chemistry/genetic arguments have become standardised ways of looking at humanity and life experience. it's an excuse, as you say, and takes on virulent forms when used against women - lol PMT etc - but personality in general is increasingly policed, i guess, in ways that previously the power structures only sought to police behaviours.

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

and yeah there are double standards, sometimes we are at the mercy of our internal chemistry and sometimes it makes us who we are

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

...runs the argument

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes, all that, too.

What I'm trying to say is, it varies within gender as well as between them. Some women are aggressive and competitive. Some men are warm and nurturing. (Most humans have some mixture of the two.) You can say "it's testosterone" or you can say "it's cultural conditioning" but the important thing is that it varies and that variance is OK.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

Hey Emily - Thank you. :)

wolf kabob (ENBB), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

gonna check in later because this will likely be a thread to learn from, just please do me a favour and explain/link any jargon ( "culturally essentialist" up there threw me, though to be fair it also took me three attempts at processing "climate change denier" before I realised it wasn't talking about sheerer stockings.)

thomasintrouble, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

Anyone who takes potshots at the surreal typing lysdexia caused by my iPhone is gonna get a crack on the head for asking. Just saying, like. My spelling is gonna be all over the shop.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes I am aware of the hilarity involved in an amateur Li ghost (that was linguist, iPhone - but I'm gonna leave that to show what this thing does to me) who cannot spell but chomski my Sapir-wharf hypothesARSE if u wanna rib me about it. ;-)

^^^^^ha ha this is all a clumsy joke but if you ever can't google something or want a clarification pls say "srs question" and I'll try to de-jargon-ify

It's not so much learning new jargon as learning a new language requires a new way of thinking coz replacing words w/o replacing the thought processes is not progress. It's trying to unlearn so many of the kierarchy's ideas which is often the hard part.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

Right, why is why "can't google" isn't necessarily the problem - a lot of this is going to be "but what do you mean by that word / in this context?"

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

the funniest iphone autocorrect i've seen is changing "sexting" to "destiny" :/

first period don't give a fuck, second period gon get cut (lex pretend), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah but there's a difference between "who is Dale Spender" and "what do you mean by kierarchy in this context" - happy to discuss the latter. Not so much the former.

I dunno, "cultural essentialist" seemed to be the opposite/corollary of "biological essentialist" and didn't really need clarification? But I guess maybe we should touch on how there are two (opposing?) schools of thought saying gender difference is the result of nature or nurture. Obv almost all arguments of this kind are at their heart an and/both proposition not an either/or.

But the biggest difference is that the Cultural crew believe that this stuff is nurture - and therefore can be changed and the Biological crew think this is impossible (and maybe even "against nature") to try to strive for gender equality

(see if you can guess which side I'm on, huh?)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

if anyone is going to continue to insist that gender is a ~biological~ thing, I'm going to treat them like a climate change denier, and just not engage with nonsense.

biological gender IS a thing, and anyone who continues to insist that it isn't is simply wrong, full stop. in an overall sense, we can measure the differences between men and women any number of ways, not just in terms of the gross architecture of the body, but also in terms of more subtle things like its chemistry and DNA. we don't fully understand what all of this means, of course, and individuals vary greatly, but this doesn't mean that we can't scientifically "perceive" biological gender. we can.

of course and like i very clearly said before, we can only perceive and understand the significance of biological gender at a remove, as filtered through the understandings of gender that we've inherited. that's what makes this subject interesting. we know that we are driven both by biology and by the cultural constructs that compose our understanding, and there's no way to clearly distinguish between the two.

to repeat another thing i said earlier, we can see the workings of gender in male violence as a phenomenon. male violence exists and is a problem in every culture in the world, and this has always been true throughout human history so far as we know. you suggested that if i were dropped into ancient sparta, i would be perceived as a wimp. of course i would. in case you missed it, that was the entire point of the paragraph you were responding to: that gender is, to a substantial extent, a cultural construct. but it's worth noting that ancient sparta was no less dominated by male violence than our world is today. this does not conclusively "prove" that male violence is a product of male biology, of course, but it does incline me to suspect that biology plays a role.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 17:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

You're not *even* wrong.

You seem to inhabit this weird fantasy world where male power is not prized and rewarded at every turn, and female power is not demonised and punished at every turn. Where male violence is not *fetishised* and portrayed as noble and good and female violence is not denied in order to keep some wonderful "pure" vision of "femininity" as opposed to "masculinity."

This fantasy world where violent women from Boudiccea to Margaret Thatcher can just be handwaved away.

A fantasy world where structural inequality does not codify "male" supremacy over "female" at every step because the rules were written to keep it that way. These ideas are not reinforced with cultural narrative over and again until ppl believe they are true bcuz other views just don't get presented, or are actively derided by those w the most to lose?

And then you want to turn around and talk about this highly contrived and exaggerated version of "masculinity" as being somehow inevitable, even biological?

And I just call: bullshit.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've been looking for the past half hour to see if I can find any studies that strongly demonstrate even the simple premise that testosterone leads to increased aggression. Can't find anything. And conversely, if you google 'violent women' you get lots of hits about violence against women, a review of a book about Hollywood fetishisation of female violence, and a Daily Mail article about teenage girl gangs.

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration the violence women do against men, the violence women do against each other, and the (sexual) violence men inflict on other men. I'll keep looking for biological underpinnings to the assumption, there may well be something, but I'm inclined to think it'll turn out to be by far the lesser factor.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

I mean let's get this straight. I'm not denying that there's such a * thing* as male violence, or that male violence especially as used as a method of control against women (hello Chris Brown and domestic violence awareness) is not hugely problematic.

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think you're responding to an imaginary person in your head, cuz it sure as hell isn't me.

of course male power is prized and rewarded at every turn. or course female power is demonized and punished i don't wave any counter examples away. but the history of human violence, not just in western culture but in every culture ever known, is predominantly the history of male violence. to my mind, in conjunction with what little we do know about male and female biology, this makes it reasonable (not certain, just reasonable) to suppose that male biology plays a role in male violence.

would say the same of many other ostensibly gendered characteristics and behaviors, that biology probably does play some role. again though, it's impossible to clearly distinguish between the urgings of biology and cultural conditioning. but the fact that we can't know exactly what role biology plays does not mean that biology plays no role. in order to understand such things clearly, we have to accept huge amount of uncertainty. i.e., if you align yourself with either "crew", Cultural or Biological, you're missing the larger picture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

i suspect that both factors play a role, nature & nurture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Zora there's evidence that testosterone is released by men who are victors *after* the aggression is over but little evidence that testosterone causes violence or aggression. It's complicated, as all hormonal things involving humans tend to be.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration...

i don't think you need a starting assumption. i think it's better to look at the available information and work up from there.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

Contenderizer you keep repeating the same things over and over as if you haven't read what I've posted (and certainly none of the books I've referenced) so you are also having a conversation with someone who is not me.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

Excuse me, xelab, could you refine your communication skills ever so slightly to clear up what you're talking about? No 'hilarity' intended whatsofuckingever by my post.

leave the web alone boys (suzy), Friday, 18 July 2014 21:58 (1 week ago) Permalink

Sorry for being rude but people need to catch up on the fact that disablist slurs are no different to racist slurs, it needs to be wiped out and it isn't something warranting a bit of a laugh. That Tyranny of Humour thread is definitely the place for this.

xelab, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:03 (1 week ago) Permalink

yeah i don't think most ppl in the us would think of 'spastic' as a term for ppl w/ cerebral palsy but i also don't doubt that someone w/ cp has been described as 'spastic' in the us (tbf ppl w/ cp can be pretty fucking spastic). acting offended at the idea of not using anymore or someone else's taking offense is a bit 'why?' but acting offended at someone using this term when they clearly didn't mean this fairly obscure meaning and pretending that in fact they meant precisely that is disingenuous. still waiting to find out what 'mouth breather' means in the uk. what strikes me as likely now w/ increased culture flow between the us and the uk thanks to the internet is that you might (and probably already do in more cosmopolitan contexts) have more americans shunning the term but i am guessing you will have many more americans now using it specifically to refer to ppl w/ cp a la mental and ginger before it. "words are fluid".

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:06 (1 week ago) Permalink

skeptical that slurs are ever wiped out, would guess they're merely replaced, w/ the replacement having the advantage of not having a preexisting taboo to deter it and novelty to increase its spread, similar to a virus, adaptation, etc. information generally doesn't behave the way you're describing xelab.

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:11 (1 week ago) Permalink

i'm more of a skeptic of 'the power of language' of late though. ten years ago i might've said different and i can see the argument for attacking behavioral symptoms instead of behavioral causes.

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:14 (1 week ago) Permalink

Some columnist in a US local paper used 'spastic' and I was amazed.
There are plenty of things that the US gets enraged about that don't have an equivalent background here yet I'd like to think we have the decency to take that on board and stop using it. One example from ILX: "uppity" having racial connotations. Never knew that, but no longer say it.

kinder, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:16 (1 week ago) Permalink

Sorry Suzy I have just read your post again minus red mist. My first read was you were trying to be funny and ironic. I got it wrong.

xelab, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:17 (1 week ago) Permalink

official/medical terminology seems like it has to run to escape the pall of insult on some kind of generational cycle, esp with mental illness and disability - "idiot" and "moron" were both doctorspeak of gilded age vintage, right?

interestingly it seems like the same thing occurs in language use for all "managed" populations: my mom remembers working in geriatrics in the 70s when patients were called "inmates" (?!) and the shift to referring to them as "residents" esp in long-term care situations. i wonder if there was a concomitant shift in corrections (lol now there's a euphemism for you) from the term "prisoner" to "inmate"

goole, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:17 (1 week ago) Permalink

not to mention my favorite one: the humanist innovation of the "penitentiary" (a place where you learn to be sorry) rather than a mere prison where we lock you up for punishment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_State_Penitentiary

goole, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:20 (1 week ago) Permalink

Sanitarium is another good one

, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:21 (1 week ago) Permalink

my boss sends her kids to a fancy UWS school and got a letter home about her daughter using the "s-word" (stupid)

caek, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:21 (1 week ago) Permalink

Don't know if this helps or not, but just for another view, in Denmark, 'spastic' (spastiker) is the farthest thing from a slur, it's just what it's called. The society for people with CP is called 'spastikerforeningen'. However, growing up, 'spasser' (spaz) was one of the most used playground taunts I knew. In von Trier's film The Idiots, they pretend to be spaz's and to 'spaz' out. Though they act more like people with Down's Syndrome. Which, growing up, was still always called 'mongolism', so we probably weren't as sensitive as we should be...

Frederik B, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:27 (1 week ago) Permalink

The ESP is a pretty cool place - only a few blocks away from my high school, but didn't actually get around to visiting it until a few years ago xp

, Friday, 18 July 2014 22:32 (1 week ago) Permalink

Some columnist in a US local paper used 'spastic' and I was amazed.
There are plenty of things that the US gets enraged about that don't have an equivalent background here yet I'd like to think we have the decency to take that on board and stop using it. One example from ILX: "uppity" having racial connotations. Never knew that, but no longer say it.

OTM across the board

Star Gentle Uterus (DJP), Friday, 18 July 2014 22:57 (1 week ago) Permalink

is it fair to defend one's right to obliviously offend people in strange corners of the world

the late great, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:10 (1 week ago) Permalink

to be clear I'm not really defending Weird Al's right to be offensive, it's more that balls is correct that pretending that he deliberately meant the offensive meaning when he did not is ludicrous.

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:15 (1 week ago) Permalink

this is like UK ilx's "revenge" for the bottle opener thread, isn't it?

sarahell, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:18 (1 week ago) Permalink

no

xelab, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:28 (1 week ago) Permalink

imo while said word is considered much less offensive in the usa than in the uk, it *is* considered childish. adults aren't flinging it about, it's more for rude children mocking their ungainly (but not disabled) fellows. and iirc its ironic use would be right up weird al's alley for those reasons.

mookieproof, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:28 (1 week ago) Permalink

Some of the belligerent USA disablist apologist arseholes on this thread need to seriously fuck off and die.

xelab, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:36 (1 week ago) Permalink

it *is* considered childish - well yeah. it's funny cuz when i first heard it was titled 'word crimes' i though it was gonna be about trigger warnings, pc, etc and i was like 'whoo boy - good luck al'. and then of course cuz he's not the s-word and he's not right wing it turned out to be about grammar. damn near every english teacher i knew couldn't post that thing on facebook fast enough and al knew that would happen.

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:36 (1 week ago) Permalink

xelab 'fuck off and die' is offensive in the us, use other words plz. maybe take a walk around the block (very sincere apologies if you cannot walk), catch yr breath, think about whether violence is the solution. also (in the belligerent USA at least) you should probably say 'ablist apologist'.

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:38 (1 week ago) Permalink

why are a bunch of dudes discussing the offensiveness of another dude's word choice re disabled people on the feminism and wymen's thread?

sarahell, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:40 (1 week ago) Permalink

also in the us an affectation like 'arseholes' has classist connotations i'm guessing you'd want to avoid. you're kinda giving off a rick santelli vibe. is that yr intention?

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:40 (1 week ago) Permalink

Stay classy, balls

, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:45 (1 week ago) Permalink

why are a bunch of dudes discussing the offensiveness of another dude's word choice re disabled people on the feminism and wymen's thread?

Won't argue with that and unreservedly apologise for that. But fuck the rest of these arseholes.

xelab, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:46 (1 week ago) Permalink

be the change you want to see in the world xelab.

balls, Friday, 18 July 2014 23:48 (1 week ago) Permalink

i think it's only fair that we now fill the weird al thread with 150 posts about feminism

relentlessly pecking at peace (President Keyes), Saturday, 19 July 2014 01:03 (1 week ago) Permalink

ugh, i really did not intend to drag the whole weird al discussion here. i had a tangential thought that there is a gendered dynamic to the downward-punching, derisive sense of humor. while i dont think men are the exclusive practitioners of this style of humor, it is male-dominated.

and up here there is a style of "he couldnt be ____ist because he is a decent guy, its just a joke lighten up" reputation defense that...i dont know if its a male thing especially, but i see it used more for men in male-dominated spaces.

it's not a fedora, it's a trill bae (m bison), Saturday, 19 July 2014 02:03 (1 week ago) Permalink

That's like if one country decided to use the word "orange" as a slur for some minority and then insisted that everywhere and anywhere all uses of the word to refer to the fruit or the color were actually derogatory slurs.

hi

blap setter (darraghmac), Saturday, 19 July 2014 08:34 (1 week ago) Permalink

decent discussion IMO I find myself in the unfamiliar but not unwelcome position of agreeing with my mayne dayo to a large extent but maybe only cos spastic is p obviously a word not to use, being derogatorily descriptive of certain physical failings by comparing them to ppl with shit medical conditions.

but I would be interested to hear what, exactly,yanks think it means. if that's been explained elsewhere in all this soz I'm a lil drunk

blap setter (darraghmac), Saturday, 19 July 2014 08:41 (1 week ago) Permalink

It's not just 'spastic', iirc there's a US series called 'the mentalist'

kinder, Saturday, 19 July 2014 09:08 (1 week ago) Permalink

jesus , the monsters

blap setter (darraghmac), Saturday, 19 July 2014 09:10 (1 week ago) Permalink

#accidentalpartridge

kinder, Saturday, 19 July 2014 09:14 (1 week ago) Permalink

I was in local place called YPAT earlier, it is a local authority clubhouse for young people with a wide range of disabilities. For many of them that attend it is the only social interaction they experience other than school and family. I'd imagine even some of the hard-headed zingy types on here would be humbled and revising their attitude towards disablist words if they even spent 10 minutes there.

Sorry about the thread hijacking, last post.

xelab, Saturday, 19 July 2014 12:30 (1 week ago) Permalink

why are a bunch of dudes discussing the offensiveness of another dude's word choice re disabled people on the feminism and wymen's thread?

― sarahell, Friday, July 18, 2014 11:40 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

intersectionALity

when you call my name it's like a prickly pear (Crabbits), Saturday, 19 July 2014 15:08 (1 week ago) Permalink

HAHAHAHAHAH!

sarahell, Saturday, 19 July 2014 15:53 (1 week ago) Permalink

perfect

sleeve, Saturday, 19 July 2014 15:56 (1 week ago) Permalink

all this has convinced me to stop insulting people with words that refer to different physical / mental conditions fwiw

mattresslessness, Saturday, 19 July 2014 16:31 (1 week ago) Permalink

including 'idiot', 'stupid' and 'dumb'. still think it's ok to say someone is dull or thick-headed, thank god.

mattresslessness, Saturday, 19 July 2014 16:35 (1 week ago) Permalink

Is dimbulb still safe, do you think? What about nudnik?

how's life, Saturday, 19 July 2014 16:39 (1 week ago) Permalink

terms of contempt (all-purpose, non-bigotted)

how's life, Saturday, 19 July 2014 16:40 (1 week ago) Permalink

Also "lame" xps

just1n3, Saturday, 19 July 2014 20:52 (1 week ago) Permalink

How's about fucking Über-Schmoozer, how's life? All this "political correctness gone mad" vehemence is complete shit. I am sticking up for people here who often don't have ability to fight back and I don't really care if I sound like a loon. I am the only able bodied person in my household, my partner has some rare form of leukodystrophy/MS and my son is on the non-verbal side of the autism spectrum. I can't really approach this from any than other vantage other than fuck people who are always arguing for their right to use reductive insults against disabled people. Anyone who who thinks words are harmless is talking garbage and has no appreciation of the insidious, attritional effect they have on vulnerable people, often without the ability to fight back.

Sorry again feminist clique I promise I won't post on here again.

xelab, Saturday, 19 July 2014 20:53 (1 week ago) Permalink

arguing for their right to use reductive insults against disabled people - nobody is doing this

Anyone who who thinks words are harmless is talking garbage and has no appreciation of the insidious, attritional effect they have on vulnerable people, often without the ability to fight back. - you are describing nobody on this thread

balls, Saturday, 19 July 2014 20:56 (1 week ago) Permalink

Damn dude let it go

, Saturday, 19 July 2014 21:47 (1 week ago) Permalink

yeah none of this actually matters anyway

balls, Saturday, 19 July 2014 21:56 (1 week ago) Permalink

stop talking, bollocks m8

ogmor, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:12 (1 week ago) Permalink

My daughter has the opposite affliction from spastic disorder (hypertonia). Instead she is seriously hypotonic. I suppose it was a bit of good luck for her that 'hypotonic' has no cachet as a playground insult.

As for her opinion of 'retard' as an insult (nb: her IQ cannot be measured by any existing test and thus is officially set at 60) I think I know her well enough to be sure she would have nothing but contempt for those who bandy it about. Unfortunately she can't speak or sign and therefore cannot share that opinion explicitly.

frog latin (Aimless), Sunday, 20 July 2014 00:40 (1 week ago) Permalink

<3 all dealing with rrealitiesof referenced conditions

but in awe of subset of above realising/allowing for everyday human piggybacking of terms little understood/appreciated nonetheless referenced for everyday effect

blap setter (darraghmac), Sunday, 20 July 2014 01:38 (1 week ago) Permalink


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