- Date published:
10:55 am, July 28th, 2021 - 145 comments
Categories: feminism, gay rights, gender critical feminism, Left - Tags: Daphna Whitmore, Free Speech Union, Kathleen Stock, Redline, why we debate
It’s good to see this because Stock is one of the most evenhanded and thoughtful presences in the gender/sex wars. She is left wing, and a politicsed lesbian, so the whole line about gender critical feminism being a right wing fundamentalist US movement is neatly undercut.
Tribal lefties, don’t let your heads explode by the fact that this event was hosted by the Free Speech Union and introduced by Jordan Williams. Yeah, I had to adjust my emotional response too, but this is a feature of the gender/sex war and what I am about to write: if you take a No Debate position and force it on politicised people on the left, they will find other ways for their voices to be heard.
The left should be concerned about the numbers of left wing woman made politically homeless by No Debate and the redefining of ‘woman’ and ‘lesbian’, and who are now radicalising around women’s politics in ways that won’t necessarily serve the left. But also, the many left wing women who are still left wing, refusing to go right or work with the right, and are increasingly fucked off at being told to stfu.
There’s precedent in feminism of left/right collaboration or overlap eg the fight against pornography. I think there’s something politically healthy about this. In NZ it may help the right recover some semblance of political normalcy instead of National’s commitment to Trumpian politics, and for the left it might help us shift out of our position of god being on our side so we will inevitably win, despite evidence to the contrary. But then I’m a deep greenie, so working on policy across the political spectrum while holding firm on principles seems utterly normal to me.
A few snips from the first part of the video:
KS: [gender identity] is the theory that it’s not your sex or even the surgery you’ve had or anything about your body outwardly that determines your rights, which spaces you should be getting into, which resources you should have, it’s an inner feeling of gender identidy, whether you feel like really a male or a female or neither (if you’re non-binary). So that’s gender identity theory in a nutshell.
DW: One of the things I’ve noticed around that gender theory is there’s a very strong line that this is not up for debate. That is the message that’s put out there. I think it’s been very successful in shutting people down funnily enough, that just stating it in that way. So why do you think that has taken hold? Why can people just say this is not up for debate, shut you down, label you a transphobe and bigot, and be successful?
KS: I think that’s a really good question, really interesting. I think that someone should… many people should study this and write books about it in future years because there’s not a simply answer. I think there’s a confluence of cultural forces, intellectual forces, that are coming together right now which have produced this crazy situation. But I think one short answer is that this … whole movement is not pursuing truth. If it was puruing truth then they’d be open to, you know, evidence and alternative points of view, and things would proceed in the normal way. But actually I think the pursuit is in a way as I say an immersion in a kind of fiction of you know, people can change sex. And because the goal is fiction you can’t mention that it’s a fiction because you lose your immersion, so there’s a real concerted effort to shut down any kind of talk of reality.
So that’s one aspect. There’s also a lot of fear involved. There’s genuinely well intentioned fear of exposing trans people to violence. The misguided thought is that if we don’t mention their sex in any context then somehow we will protect them from violence, but actually I’m afraid that isn’t obviously true and the costs are far too high for everyone else. Because we have to talk about sex, it’s important.
Note that in the Q and A section, FSU edited out the questions so as to preserve anonymity of people asking. Stop and consider the implications of that, especially in light of the rest of the post above.
That’s my intro to the video. I’m still watching the whole thing and encourage others to do so in order to understand what is being debated.
One of the central premises of Stock’s book Material Girls is that we should understand our opponents’ positions well,
I am critical of gender identity theory – but not of trans people, for whom I have friendly sympathy and respect. When criticising a philosophical position, it’s a good idea to start with a fairly neutral presentation of it. You should try to describe the position as its supporters would, without aspersions. That way, you aren’t lazily setting yourself up for cheap wins later.
I wrote about the importance of this recently in Why we debate and I’m mentioning it again here because the sex/gender war isn’t solely about feminism and transactivism. A key feature is power and who gets to have a say.
The purpose in putting up this post is to make Stock’s arguments and work on gender/sex more widely known in New Zealand, especially given the debate around gender self-ID and the proposed changes to the Birth, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration legislation. I also want to provide a place for open and honest debate in the issues affecting trans people, women, lesbians and gays (and society at large). The Standard has so far been largely free of the abuse and massive talking past each other that is happening in other online spaces, and I encourage us to keep it that way.
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