Transphobia is the latest weapon in a raging culture war

From Red Pepper UK:  https://www.redpepper.org.uk/transphobia-is-the-latest-weapon-in-the-culture-war/

The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy

Roz Kaveney
December 5, 2017

Over the last two months, the press has run rather more stories on the trans community than happens in a normal year – most of these negative and many of them actively malicious. There has also been a staggering amount of unpleasantness on social media directed at both at the community and at individual trans people both from the right and, more depressingly, from people who regard themselves as left-wing and as feminists.

We trans people stand accused of being the narcissistic consequence of gender theory and post-modernism, of being violent sexual abusers merely by existing, of being ugly or of having had too much plastic surgery, ‘mad, stupid or evil’. We have too much power and influence; we are a fanatical lobby of activists; we are funded by big pharmaceutical companies, the sex trade and rich consumers of pornography whom we are using our IT skills to blackmail. We are a danger to women and young girls simply by using toilets and gender-neutral changing rooms – we don’t have to do anything wrong there, but are a threat simply by existing. We are a cult, trying to draw in young recruits through peer pressure. subversive children’s picture books and the presence of androgynous characters in computer games and Japanese anime. We are trying to destroy reality itself by undermining the concept of truth.

We are obviously all really busy, all of the time.

This is, of course, nonsense. Most trans people are too busy surviving for any of this – dealing with discrimination in employment, housing and education, trying to access trans-specific medical care in a time of NHS cuts and general austerity, surviving a disproportionately high rate of being victims of rape and more general assault. Trans people use toilets and changing rooms for the standard reasons, not to make a political point – it’s perhaps significant that the non-binary person featured in much of the coverage of the changing rooms – on the 4th December in the Sun for example – is black as well as trans. If we had any institutional power, we would be using it in all of these areas to protect ourselves, and make our lives easier.

The pretext for this wave of hate is, ironically, a suggested piece of legislation, unlikely to be passed any time soon, which we welcome but which was not high on our shopping list. The Conservative government is discussing an updating of the process of formal ‘Gender Recognition’ – established in the 2004 act as a intrusive. cumbersome and expensive procedure – in line with the best practice of other countries like Eire where making it a simple civil declaration has, contrary to all the scare stories and hypothetical scenarios, had no serious negative consequences whatever. It’s a vaguely liberal gesture which the May government favours partly because it doesn’t cost anything.

Yet a group of anti-trans radical feminists called A Woman’s Place UK (not to be confused with other groups with a similar name) is holding public meetings all over the country to alert women in general to what they claim is an attempt to erase the very existential nature of womanhood. (As so often, they ignore the existence of trans men except for the occasional pious hope that they will repent.) The only unusual thing about this – much of it is the usual suspects of feminist transphobia – is its growing virulence and the extent to which its signal is being boosted by the Times and the Daily Mail.

Continue reading at:  https://www.redpepper.org.uk/transphobia-is-the-latest-weapon-in-the-culture-war/

Feminist Movement Grapples with Antisemitism — Again

From The New York Jewish Week:  https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/feminists-and-anti-semitism-then-and-now/

Its leaders need to forcefully condemn it.

By Dr. Rafael Medoff
November 15, 2018

Prominent feminists are split over the issue of condemning anti-Semitism—just as they were in the 1930s. How sad that some things never seem to change.

Actress and women’s rights activist Alyssa Milano ignited the latest controversy when she said recently that she will not take part in the upcoming 2019 Women’s March unless its leaders publicly condemn the anti-Semitic demagogue Rev. Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam. Those leaders responded with a vague and inadequate statement about anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

The problem is rooted in the fact that several Women’s March leaders are unabashed admirers of Farrakhan. Last year for example, Tamika Mallory, co-chair of the Women’s March, posted a photo on Instagram with her arms around Farrakhan. The caption read: “Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT [Greatest Of All Time]. Happy birthday @louisfarrakhan.”

Speaking in Chicago in February this year, Farrakhan said “the Jews were responsible for all this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out.” Mallory attended the event. When Mallory was criticized for not speaking out against Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic remarks, Women’s March board member Linda Sarsour came to her defense.

“I will not sit back while a strong, bold, unapologetic, committed Black woman who risks her life every day to speak truth to power and organize and mobilize movements is questioned, berated and abused,” Sarsour declared on Facebook. “I stand with Tamika Mallory every day, with every fiber of my being because she has so much of what we need in the movement right now to win.”

Sarsour has her own record of troubling statements and actions, such as saying “nothing is creepier than Zionism”; championing the cause of Rasmea Odeh, a convicted killer of two Hebrew University students; and asserting that there is no room in the feminist movement for anybody “who supports the State of Israel.” Anti-Defamation League director Jonathan Greenblatt has said Sarsour’s anti-Israel activity “encourages and spreads anti-Semitism,” and his predecessor, Abe Foxman, has described Sarsour as “bigoted.”

Carmen Perez, another of the four leaders of the Women’s March, not only reposted Mallory’s photo with Farrakhan, but has also posted a photo of herself holding hands with the Nation of Islam leader. On one she posted the caption read: “There are many times when I sit with elders or inspirational individuals where I think, ‘I just wish I could package this and share this moment with others.’ ” It continues. Mallory and Sarsour both commented voicing their admiration and support for The Nation Of Israel leader.

In response to Milano’s call for them to denounce Farrakhan, the Women’s March leadership last week issued a remarkable statement. “We recognize the danger of hate rhetoric by public figures,” it asserted. “We want to say emphatically that we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish, and LGBTQ communities.”

Note how they oppose “hate rhetoric” by “public figures,” but do not actually name those individuals. They say they “do not support or endorse” Farrakhan’s statements about Jews (and others), but they do not acknowledge that those statements were bigoted. Call it anti-Semitism without anti-Semites: they are against anti-Semitism in general, but will not admit that the man they admire is an anti-Semite.

Continue reading at: https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/feminists-and-anti-semitism-then-and-now/

See also:

Women’s March Award Rescinded by German NGO Due to Anti-Semitism

Embattled Women’s March Finally Releases Financial Records

Life Expectancy Is Going Down Because of ODs and Suicides

Many if not most ODs are suicides.  You can only dance with death so many times before you fall.  Like alcoholism, addiction to hard drugs is just suicide on the installment plan.

From The Rolling Stone:  https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/life-expectancy-overdose-suicide-761525/

By
November 29, 2018

Life expectancy in the United States has dropped for the third year in a row, as suicide and overdose deaths continue to rise, according to a new report released Thursday by the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics. The average American life expectancy dipped just slightly from 78.7 years in 2016 to 78.6 in 2017. This may not seem significant on its own, but when taken as part of the three-year trend, we’re in the midst of the longest-lasting decline in life expectancy in the U.S. since World War I.

Deaths from heart disease and cancer, the country’s two leading causes of death, have continued their steady decline, but that drop was outpaced by the increase in suicides and accidental injuries, including drug overdose.

Drug overdose deaths specifically reached a new record high, at 70,237 recorded in 2017. That’s an increase of 9.6 percent over 2016’s numbers. One major culprit in the rise in overdose deaths is synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Deaths from those drugs jumped by 45 percent from 2016 to 2017.

The silver lining is that while overdose deaths are still climbing, the rate of increase is slowing down, compared to the 21-percent increase between 2015 and 2016. This could mean that harm reduction initiatives, like increasing the awareness and availability of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose, are starting to work. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Surgeon General both highlight naloxone access as a key to preventing overdose death, and provide information on where to get the drug and receive training on how to administer it to someone in distress.

Eliza J. Wheeler, an overdose response strategist at the Harm Reduction Coalition, agreed in an email to Rolling Stone that the best way to prevent overdose deaths is “focusing on interventions that directly empower people who use drugs with the tools to reverse overdose,” including naloxone, as well as “drug-checking services, safer consumption spaces and access to services like syringe access, opioid agonist treatments, testing and linkage to care for viral hepatitis and HIV, shelter, housing and accessible, voluntary, evidence-based and non-coercive substance-use treatment programs.”

“We also believe in addressing the structural factors driving the increases in drug overdose deaths and impacting the quality of life for persons who use drugs,” she says, “including the War on Drugs and racialized drug policies that disproportionately affect communities of color, people experiencing poverty, and contribute to mass incarceration.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/life-expectancy-overdose-suicide-761525/

The Current Women’s Movement has a Problem with Anti-Trans Bigotry and Anti-Semitism

The antisemitism of several leaders of the Women’s March parallels the anti-trans bigotry which is publicly exhibited by TERFs.

The rationalizations are nearly identical.  The wrapping bigotry in the cloak of intersectionality, which in one case refuses to denounce cozy worship of NOI leader Louis Farrakhan, who is not only an antisemite but an anti-LGBTQ bigot. Over the years I have seen Dyke marches exclude not only trans-women but Jewish women who had the audacity to carry rainbow flags with the Magen David on them.

It seems as though two minority groups are being thrown to the wolves in order to pander to bigots who are members of yet other minority groups that seem adorned with some special armor which makes them beyond criticism.

Can We Finally Stop Talking About ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ Brains?

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/opinion/male-female-brains-mosaic.html

Recent research is making it clearer than ever that the notion that sex determines the fundamentals of brain structure and behavior is a misconception.

By Daphna Joel and Cordelia Fine
Dec. 3, 2018

In 17th and 18th century Europe, the rise of egalitarian ideals created the need for a scientific account of women’s inferior status. Thus was born gender biological complementaritythe notion that, as historian of science Londa Schiebinger explains in The Mind Has No Sex, “Women were not to be viewed merely as inferior to men but as fundamentally different from, and thus incomparable to, men.” It has been with us in one way or another, roping in science to explain the gender status quo, ever since.

At its core is the persistent belief that men’s and women’s natures can be usefully and meaningfully carved into two categories or “natural kinds,” that are distinct, timeless, and deeply biologically grounded. Today’s version of this idea continues a centuries long quest to find the source of this hypothesized divergence in abilities, preferences, and behavior in the brain: You can find this notion at work, for instance, in popular books like John Gray’s “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” in the 1990s, Louann Brizendine’s “The Female Brain” and “The Male Brain” the following decade, and last year’s “Results at the Top: Using Gender Intelligence to Create Breakthrough Growth” by Barbara Annis and Richard Nesbitt.

But a version of the same assumption is also sometimes subtly present in scientific research. Consider, for example, Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen’s influential Empathizing-Systemizing theory of brains and the accompanying “extreme male brain” theory of autism. This presupposes there is a particular “systemizing” brain type that we could meaningfully describe as “the male brain,” that drives ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that distinguish the typical boy and man from the typical “empathizing” girl and woman.

Or consider studies that report sex differences in brain structure in terms of two different classes of brains. Thus, a globally publicized study by Madhura Ingalhalikar and colleagues on the human connectome — that is, the enormous set of connections between the different regions of the brain — which concluded that “male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes.”

The problem with these approaches is the implicit assumption that sex differences, whether in brain structure, function, or behavior, ‘add up’ consistently in individuals to create “male brains” and “female brains,” and “male natures” and “female natures.”

In 2015, one of us, Daphna Joel, led an analysis of four large data sets of brain scans, and found that the sex differences you see overall between men’s and women’s brains aren’t neatly and consistently seen in individual brains. In other words, humans generally don’t have brains with mostly or exclusively “female-typical” features or “male-typical” features. Instead, what’s most common in both females and males are brains with “mosaics” of features, some of them more common in males and some more common in females.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/opinion/male-female-brains-mosaic.html

Hanukkah Sameach!

Friday Night Fun And Culture: Anita O’Day