Australia: Leading feminist launches bizarre ‘racist’ attack on trans community

From The Star Observer Aus:

Serkan Ozturk

MEMBERS of the Indigenous and trans* communities have slammed bizarre comments by a leading feminist academic comparing trans women to racist entertainers who only “pretend” to be female.

University of Melbourne Professor Sheila Jeffreys, who is a lecturer in sexual politics and international feminist politics, made the claims during a feature interview on ABC Radio’s Sunday Night Safran with hosts John Safran and Father Bob Maguire last month.

An influential figure in the second wave of feminism of the 1970s, during the interview Jeffreys suggested trans women were no better than the racist entertainers of the early to mid-20th century in the USA who engaged in blackface.

“In the States for instance they (trans people) were often compared to the black and white minstrels. The black and white minstrels were white men who dressed up with blackface to imitate what they thought were the behaviours of black singers and entertainers. That was seen as very insulting by the black community,” Jeffreys said.

“Transgenderism for men is about the right to imitate and pretend to be members of the subordinate class even though they are members of – biologically and were brought up in – the superior class. That was problematic for the black and white minstrels. It’s problematic generally when a group of people claim to be another group of subordinate people.”

Jeffreys also suggested that all trans women fell into one binary: “homosexual men who don’t feel they can be homosexual in the bodies of men”; as well as cross-dressing fetishists whom women were afraid of sharing space with such as in domestic violence refuges.

“The vast majority though are heterosexual men who have a sexual interest in wearing women’s clothes and having the appearance of women. So it’s about sexism and homophobia,” Jeffreys said.

“But we’re not allowed to talk about the politics of it really, we’re only allowed to talk about the stories of individuals and feel sorry as I genuinely do for the life experience of those men who have this form of very serious mental distress.”

Indigenous queer sistergirl, Andrew Farrell, who was brought up on the NSW South Coast and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies at the University of Wollongong told the Star Observer that Jeffreys’s understanding of gender/sex categories was in many ways an anachronism of essentialist radical feminism which has not carried well into a progressive period of race and queer politics.

“There is a fear that racist, mysoginistic, queerphobic and transphobic people will take her message as truth and enact these prejudices against trans identified Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

“By reducing transgender identities to that of histrionic mimicry is more reflective of her prejudice than it is of my understanding and practice of gender as a genderqueer Indigenous person,” Farrell said.

“I argue that Jeffreys opinion is reductive and reinforces the divisive lines of a binary that is not of valid use in various cultures worldwide including some Aboriginal cultures here in Australia. Genderqueer sistergirls, such as myself, do experience overlapping dimensions of oppression highlighted by Jeffreys hypothetical.

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Crazy Christo-Nazi John Hagee Says The Crisis In Ukraine Is The Beginning Of The Last Days

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Dwindling Christian Right Turns Into Cornered Animal, Lashes Out at Civil Rights and Democracy

From Alternet:

Demographic peril is taking on the form of political desperation.

By CJ Werleman
February 26, 2014

Like a cornered animal, which turns instinctively to confront pursuing predators, the Christian Right, knowing it represents the views of an ever shrinking number of Americans, is engaged in an existential fight to the death. Veto or no veto, Arizona’s anti-gay bill is just another of its many efforts to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy.

The Christian Right’s dirty little secret is they are acutely aware that changing demographics are running against them. While they may believe the earth is a mere few thousand years old, they’re not complete idiots. They can read polls, and the data tells them this: millennials are abandoning religious belief. According to a recent Pew survey, one in four Americans born after 1981 hold no religious belief, which is nearly double the national rate of atheism. Other studies confirm this trend, including a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute showing more than half of non-religious Millennials have abandoned their childhood faith.

With this in mind, the nation’s radical religious fundamentalists see an ever-shrinking window to impose their Bronze Age worldview on the gay, atheist, liberal, immigrant, heathen, and science book-reading masses. The American Taliban is as deeply troubled by the thoughts of a gay man “sneaking a peak” of a heterosexual man in an NFL locker room as much as they’re freaked out over seeing Cam and Mitchell, the gay couple on “Modern Family,” adopt an Asian child. For the intellectual infants of the American species, progressive culture is nothing more than a 24/7 infomercial for gay sex and abortion. That frightens our unfriendly theocrats because biblical fundamentalists are more concerned with the goings on in the bedrooms of others than they are within the guilt-ridden, sexless confines of their own.

Salon columnist Brian Beutler writes that measures like Arizona’s SB1062 bill have emerged in a number of states out of “a wellspring of conservative panic about the country’s abrupt legal and cultural evolution into a society that’s broadly tolerant of gay people.” He adds, “Rather than deny the shift, or stop at trying to reverse it in legislatures, the courts and at ballot boxes, conservatives are instead attempting to erect a legal architecture that will wall them off from the growing portion of American society that supports equal rights for gay people.”

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Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism: Healthcare Triage #12

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Sex workers rounded up in Arizona and pushed into church-based programs without charges

From Raw Story:

By Travis Gettys
Monday, March 3, 2014

Police in Arizona have been rounding up sex workers and bringing them in handcuffs to a Phoenix-area church to meet with investigators and choose between a diversion program or possible jail time.

Police and students from Arizona State’s School of Social Work have detained more than 350 people since 2011 in twice-a-year raids.

The sex workers are not officially “arrested,” police told Vice, but are “lawfully detained” in windowless church rooms without a lawyer present.

They are required to attend educational and support groups as part of the diversion, but critics say the program does not consider that some sex workers are not victims in need of rescue but consenting adults who chose their line of work.

About 35 percent of the sex workers picked up in the raids go on to lead productive lives, said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research and an Arizona State professor.

Roe-Sepowitz, who founded Project ROSE, said the other 65 percent just aren’t ready to leave sex work behind or are still dealing with the abusive relationships or drug addictions that drove them there.

“Once you’ve prostituted you can never not have prostituted,” Roe-Sepowitz said. “Having that many body parts in your body parts, having that many body fluids near you, and doing things that are freaky and weird really messes up your ideas of what a relationship looks like, and intimacy.”

Taxpayers pick up most of the program’s cost, including $1,500 per day to Bethany Bible Church during the two-day raids every six months.

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Paul Krugman won’t save us: We need a new conversation about inequality

From Salon:

Democrats are scared of class. But issues like inequality are why liberals exist, and talk can’t be left to elites

Sunday, Feb 23, 2014

When President Obama declared in December that gross inequality is the “defining challenge of our time,” he was right, and resoundingly so. As is his habit, however, he quickly backed away from the idea at the urging of pollsters and various Democratic grandees.

I can understand the Democrats’ fears about venturing into this territory. It feels like a throwback to an incomprehensible time — to a form of liberalism that few of them understand anymore. Unfortunately, they really have no choice. Watching first the way the bankers steered us into disaster in 2008 and then the way they harvested the fruits of our labored recovery — these spectacles have forced the nation to rediscover social class, and as we dig deeper into the subject we are appalled to learn what has been going on for the last three decades.

I was born in a comfortable middle-class America of the postwar years, the “affluent society” you hear about sometimes, and the shattering of that social order has been the story of my entire adult life. “Inequality” is an inadequate word for the Big Smashup, but we need some term to describe all the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so superlative and the lives of people who work so shitty and so precarious. It is visible in the ever-rising cost of healthcare and college, in the deindustrialization of the Midwest and the ballooning of Wall Street, in the power of lobbying, in the dot-com bubble, in the housing bubble, in the commodities bubble. It was made possible by the signal political events of our time: the collapse of the New Deal coalition; the decline of labor; the infernal populism of the New Right; the fall of antitrust and the triumph of deregulation; the rise of Ronald Reagan, and after him Newt Gingrich, and after him George W. Bush, and after him the Tea Party, all of them bringing their pet tax cuts with them to Washington.

The word is a polite one, but “inequality” is what we say when we mean to describe the ruined downtown of your city, or your constant fear that the next round of layoffs will include you, or the impeccable air conditioning of your boss’s McMansion, or the way you had to declare bankruptcy when your child got sick. It is a pleasant-sounding euphemism for the Appalachification of our world. “The defining challenge of our time”?: Oh, yes.

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