Friday Night Fun and Culture: Laura Marling

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Intent to Oppress

From Dallas Denny:

By Dallas Denny
22 July, 2012

Reposted with permission

The Letter appeared first here in Chrysalis on 22 July, 2012 and was published on TG Forum the following day. It was reposted last week on the TransAdvocate website.

The anonymous author declares war on me and for that matter on all transpeople. He or she and his or her six compatriots will raise an army of graduate students who will opress me and others like me and render us impotent and invisible– in the name of academic freedom. It’s a peculiarly-worded and most impolite declaration of war based upon an irrational philosophy of who I and others like me are. Happily, he or she is not the arbiter of who I am. I get to say who I am.

Source: Dallas Denny. (2012, 22 July). The letter. Published on Chrysalis Quarterly, and 23 July 2012 on the TG Forum website. Read the Chrysalis version here and the TG Forum version here.  Reposted 20 July, 2013 on the TransAdvocate website (read here


Dallas Denny:

I am writing to let you know that we were all sent a copy of your recent letter to Rutledge Press in reference to Sheila Jeffreys’ forthcoming book, Gender Hurts, and have organized a small but growing group to address the issue. We realize a corrective is urgently needed. We have held preliminary discussions to ensure that as academic women we will confront the questions beginning in the fall semester 2013 and again in the spring semester 2014. Currently, we are in the planning stage of developing correctives that both counter and point up the dangers revealed in the letter to Rutledge Press. In order to highlight the numerous incidents designed to deny women and feminists the right to express critical theories we decided it best to focus on Ms. Jeffreys’ theories specifically.  Her analysis will then serve equally as a touchstone for discussions, and as a frame for historical and political trends.

In researching this situation we have found a deeply disturbing pattern of lies and manipulations coupled with threats and other unsavory tactics, all of which are documented, some even on video. As academics, as researchers and as writers we assert that this tyranny carries us right back to McCarthyism. The letter, a prodigious example of arrogance and bullshit sounded a warning and rallied us from across the curriculum. We recognize the telltale signs of a dangerous movement that feigns legitimacy in postmodern pseudoscience and meaningless jargon—, you catchin’ my cis drift? 

We will continue to coordinate our efforts so that our classrooms will be at the forefront of questioning transgender as a valid political movement—or perhaps that is just a veil for a misogynist hate group.  We will take a holistic approach and posit the distinct possibility of a fatuous diagnosis designed to camouflage less sympathetic and socially accepted issues. Students after they sift through the death and rape threats sent by Transgender “activist” to women and feminists will understand why the syllabi are not posted on-line or on the blackboard, and our decision to procure texts from other than usual sources will make clear sense to them. Such measures are also taken to ensure that we are not personally harassed, threatened or slandered. Needless distractions make it difficult to serve our students, write our research, and apply for grants.

Ideologically, as educators and women, some feminist, others not, we see the classroom as an open space designed for the investigation of controversial ideas and a forum to embrace our commitment equally to academic freedom, women’s rights and free expression.  Our students deserve no less from us. These freedoms that we exercise (even if it really pisses you off) are above all sacred. But so too is teaching, and helping students to make sense of what is going on in the world. We highly doubt any student is so profoundly unsophisticated or uncritical as to accept the canard of hate speech that you attempt to make.  Students know bullshit when it presented. These undergraduates will arrive at more honest and apt conclusions simply by drawing facts into the conversation. In other words you do not get an opportunity to lie like a rug on our watch. We will dismantle the basic claim of “transgender” oppression. Once exposed the list of fraudulent claims that follow falls apart.

The questions students will invariably ask is: why? Why the distinctly male rage? Why the threats and why the attempts to silence women and other academics?  In order to illuminate these questions we will turn attentions toward Michael Bailey’s The Man That Would Be Queen and Dr. Anne Lawrence’s notions on transgender narcissistic rage, as both may serve to posit alternate theories of equal merit that students can understand. An added dimension will be the story behind the entire attempt to silence, harass, menace and threaten Dr. Bailey and then level threats against his children and post their pictures on the internet. Perhaps finally, a critical analysis will reveal not a new civil rights cause but a movement that has unhinged itself from the conventional expected social mores of honesty and integrity so completely as to now only be read as anti-social and unscrupulous—and a danger to women and not above threatening children. We will keep questioning, what would cause this particular pathological compulsive behavior?  Bailey alongside Jeffreys may offer up theories that undergraduate students can make sense of.

In the classroom the first order of the day will confront the ever ubiquitous over used manipulative claim of “transphobia”—which sounds hollow when students see that the primary victims are natal women who happen to hold opinions and write things that you and others do not happen to like. Again we will address, why? The claim of transphobia, once undressed and parsed is revealed as a bullying and shaming tactic used specifically against natal women. A point-by-point analysis of all the false analogies will speak to the ever-worsening manipulations of a misogynistic movement.  The classroom will be a platform to pursue truth, and students will have opportunities to check facts and question the use of statistics and finally realize that movements lie and some are bigger bullshit masters than others.

Be cognizant that any reasonable undergraduates will question a movement that lies and plays fast and loose sans accepted ethical considerations. As educators, researchers, and theorists we value critical thinking and cherish the opportunity to enable our students to ask hard questions even when those questions risk making people uncomfortable. That’s called education. It will not go over students’ heads that certain forms of contemporary thought push toward Orwellian conformity and can be understood best as tools of the privileged, by which they manipulate the uninformed into imagining the victimizer is the victim.  Even the least critical undergrad will have at least one “ah ha” moment and that’s what education is all about.

We are not using anything by which any our identities are accessible to you or any other person that has demonstrated a past inclination and criminal like pathology to threaten or slander women. You both have demonstrated this pathology clearly. This is not only a logistical decision; the choice is made in consideration of our physical safety—yes “die cis scum” has a kind of scary ring to it. Simply put, we’re “stealth”. We’re confident that you realize this piece of correspondence is not meant in anyway to be interpreted as part of dialogue. It is meant to let you know that you just secured Sheila Jeffreys another generation and your attempts to censor her are a case study in:  the reach exceeds the grasp. By the time we are done the transgender movement and those names attached will be more accurately seen as like carnival hucksters and boss man thugs and Sheila Jeffreys will drop a note on personal stationary thanking you for the spike in sales.

Thank you for your time and attention, and most specifically for the inspiration and the opportunity to show another generation what academic freedom really means on the ground and in the classroom. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors to delude people, and yes we’re flippin’ you the bird. Take this as the “fuck you” it is intended to be.


Women For Academic Freedom





M.S. -IN



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“She’s a survivor”

From Salon:

Laverne Cox on her “Orange Is the New Black” character and the need for more portrayals of trans women on TV

Thursday, Jul 25, 2013

With the possible exceptions of Jennifer Hudson, or the girl from the first season of “Survivor” who once played the love interest in a Rob Schneider movie, former reality TV stars are not renowned for their acting chops. Laverne Cox, however, is not your typical reality star. An actor, writer and transgender advocate, Cox became the first African American transgender woman to appear on a reality TV show when she starred on the first season of VH1’s “I Want To Work For Diddy” in 2008. In 2010, she became the first trans woman to produce and star in her own television show, the VH1 makeover series “TRANSform Me,” earning a GLAAD Media Award nomination in the process.

Now Cox is making television history again, delivering a stirring, nuanced performance as transgender inmate Sophia Burset on Netflix’s highly acclaimed “Orange Is The New Black.” Unlike most non-gender-normative characters in the media, who tend to be portrayed as sex workers, glitzy camp queens, or “Crying Game”-esque con artists, Sophia is a former New York City firefighter with a wife and son who was arrested for credit card fraud while trying to fund her transition. During her time in prison, Sophia grapples with harassment from prison guards and misgendering by her fellow inmates, jumping each hurdle of prison life with flair and dignity. Salon got in touch with Cox to discuss her performance on the show, her role as a trans activist and the pleasures of Netflix binge-watching.

Is there anything about Sophia’s storyline that resonated with you and your own experience, or anything you felt like you really had in common with her? 

I think, honestly, the biggest piece was her family. The biggest piece was this fear of letting down the people in your life. That’s the piece that really spoke to me, because I think there’s something so profoundly human about – there’s the struggle with being true to who you are, and knowing that you have to do what you have to do to be your authentic self, and then the possibility of that letting down people in your life and disappointing people who you love. That sort of conflict that Sophia has is really what touched me the most in terms of her as a character, and her resilience as well. She’s a survivor. A lot of trans women of color who are dealing with all kinds of crazy circumstances are survivors like Sophia. They’re figuring out how to make it work.

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White-Supremacist Mythology Pushed by Bill O’Reilly

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The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative

From Post Carbon Institute:

by Richard Heinberg
Posted Jul 24, 2013

You and I consume; we are consumers. The global economy is set up to enable us to do what we innately want to do—buy, use, discard, and buy some more. If we do our job well, the economy thrives; if for some reason we fail at our task, the economy falters. The model of economic existence just described is reinforced in the business pages of every newspaper, and in the daily reportage of nearly every broadcast and web-based financial news service, and it has a familiar name: consumerism.

Consumerism also has a history, but not a long one. True, humans—like all other animals—are consumers in the most basic sense, in that we must eat to live. Further, we have been making weapons, ornaments, clothing, utensils, toys, and musical instruments for thousands of years, and commerce has likewise been with us for untold millennia.
What’s new is the project of organizing an entire society around the necessity for ever-increasing rates of personal consumption.
This is how it happened
Consumerism arose from a unique historic milieu. In the early 20th century, a temporary abundance of cheap, concentrated, storable, and portable energy in the form of fossil fuels enabled a dramatic increase in the rate and scope of resource extraction (via powered mining equipment, chain saws, tractors, powered fishing boats, and more). Coupled with powered assembly lines and the use of petrochemicals, cheap fossil energy also permitted the vastly expanded manufacture of a widening array of commercial products. This resulted in a serious economic problem known as overproduction (too many goods chasing too few buyers), which would eventually contribute to the Great Depression.
Industrialists found a solution. How they did so is detailed a book that deserves renewed attention, Captains of Consciousness by social historian Stuart Ewen (1976). Ewen traced the rapid, massive expansion of the advertising industry during the 20th century, as well as its extraordinary social and political impacts (if you really want to understand Mad Men, start here). Ewen argued that “Consumerism, the mass participation in the values of the mass-industrial market . . . emerged in the 1920s not as a smooth progression from earlier and less ‘developed’ patterns of consumption, but rather as an aggressive device of corporate survival.”
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The Original American Dream Was Not About Getting Rich

From Alternet:

Our nation was formed because our founding fathers wanted to escape the clutches of British royalty and nobility.

By Thom Hartmann
July 24, 2013

This week, the British royal family welcomed its newest member, when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy.

And while the baby boy may not realize it now, he’s been born into a family of extraordinary wealth and status.

While their positions are mostly ceremonial today, Prince William, Kate and the rest of the British royals still represent nobility, the same nobility that our founding fathers fought to escape from nearly 250 years ago.

When George Washington and the rest of our nation’s founding fathers first stepped foot on American soil, their wealth was nothing compared to that of European royalty.

In fact, America didn’t have a millionaire until the middle of the George Washington administration.

Our nation was formed because our founding fathers wanted to escape the clutches of British royalty and nobility, and build a nation that was free to govern itself and thrive on its own, without royal dictatorship.

That’s why, time and time again, there have been efforts made to control royalty and nobility in America. From Lincoln’s land-grant colleges, to Roosevelt and Taft’s trust-busting, and FDR’s new deal, the goal of America has always been to ensure that everyone has an equal chance at living a happy and comfortable life.

In fact, while the Mitt Romney’s and Donald Trump’s of the world – who each inherited millions from daddy – may argue otherwise, the real American Dream isn’t about being a billionaire business man or mega-rich oil tycoon. It’s about being a part of a flourishing middle-class, which allows you to live comfortably your entire life until you die.

And, for many years, Americans thrived under this vision of the American Dream. Forty years ago, a strong and stable middle-class was a reality in our country.

But everything changed when Reagan came to Washington, and as a result, nobility is alive and well in the United States.

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Consumer Frugality Adds to Woes in France

Such is end stage Capitalism when so much wealth has been transferred to a tiny minority that the majority of people can barely survive much less lavishly and ceaselessly consume more and more junk.

From The New York Times:

Published: July 11, 2013

PARIS — On a recent Sunday at the sprawling Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen, France’s largest and most famous flea market, crystal chandeliers glinted in a rare patch of Parisian sun.

An ornate Napoleon III-era clock perched on a marble mantelpiece, and sales signs peeked from vintage clothing, vinyl LPs and other curios that have long drawn throngs of shoppers here, jostling for a bargain.

But something seemed amiss on this afternoon, as it has almost every weekend for more than a year. As with so much else now bedeviling France, the economy is to blame. French consumers simply are not spending the way they used to, and that is an impediment not only for the merchants of the Marché aux Puces, but also for the country’s ability to emerge from recession.

“It used to be elbow to elbow here,” said Hamidou Debo, a shoe vendor who sat quietly in his outdoor stall as a handful of people browsed through silver-hued sandals and black leather high-tops before shuffling away without buying. “Now the crowds are around half what they used to be.”

For Mr. Debo and 2,500 other merchants in the 17-acre market on the northern edge of Paris, an economic slowdown has gripped business, and there is no telling when things might turn around. Last year, he said, he regularly made 300 to 400 euros, or $390 to $520, in sales by lunchtime. Now he barely makes 100 euros.

“It’s the crisis,” Mr. Debo said. “People are no longer spending. They are worried about what the future will bring.”

Europe’s long-running economic troubles have been, for the most part, confined to the feeble countries of Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. But more and more they are coming home to roost in France, raising questions about whether one of the Continent’s biggest economies may become the next sick man of Europe.

By many measures, France is already moored in malaise. Unemployment is at its highest point since the current record-keeping system began in 1996 — 10.8 percent — and job creation has been on a downward trajectory for more than a year.

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