links for 8/17/2011

A great post about how transmisogyny is misogyny against all women.

If you are telling trans women they can’t be women, you’re telling every woman on the planet she can’t be whatever she wants. That doesn’t sound very feminist to me. It sounds more like something a pipe smoking white guy from the 50s would say to his daughter who wants to be an astronaut. Gross. Also, you’re basically declaring yourself the authority on other peoples’ identities. And really, my telling you to knock that off is for your own good. Do you have any idea how tiring that would be? Every time someone needed to know their own gender identity, they would have to contact you. Do you know how many people are in the world? Six billion-ish. I suggest, if you do keep this up, that perhaps you may want to get a gmail account, as that has an infinite amount of storage space. You’re going to need that for 6 billion emails with the subject heading, “what am I?”

But you should really read the whole piece.

The racist fascination with black women’s hair takes an even creepier turn.

Barbara Eherenrich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a must read for anyone interested in america’s classism. As is this new intro to the book, on it’s tenth anniversary.

Why ending DADT is not the path to queer liberation:

Considering how unpopular the current wars are, I question why the right to serve openly in the military is at the forefront of LGBT activism. Why are gays and lesbians eager to join an institution that has traditionally upheld the rigid gender roles against which the LGBT movement has been rebelling? Why seek membership in an institution that takes advantage of the poor to fight battles that serve the goals of the elite? And what of the civilians whose rights are infringed and cast aside by a U.S. invasion? – are we trading their civil rights for our own?

I’m attracted to sentiments from queer liberationists, who are against the repeal of DADT because they are anti-military. Queer liberationism teaches that queer issues should be examined not just as they relate to the LGBT population, but to all aspects of social justice. This view is in opposition to gay assimilation, which seeks to normalize queerness and codify LGBT people as the same as their heterosexual friends and family. By striving for blanket acceptance, gay assimillationists fail to analyze the implications of participating in certain institutions — achieving sameness is the most important goal.

Communities of colour and their allies protest the ongoing police violence that has been making news in san francisco.

Does facebook condone a culture of rape? (In case you’re on the edge of your seat wondering, the answer is yes).

Check out this conversation, comparing abortion rhetoric and policy in france and the states.

If you’re in nyc for the Fringe Fest, check out Zahra Noorbakshk’s show, “All Atheists Are Muslim”. She describes it as “3rd wave feminism meets 1000s of years of cultural tradition and religious doctrine in a boy-meets girl comedy that will have everyone discovering their inner Muslim.” Support a feminist artist and go!

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82 Responses

  1. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    ALL atheists are Muslim? She can speak for herself. Would Feministe plug a program that all Jews are Christian, or all Muslims are Jewish, or that all Buddhists are Wiccan?

    I’m sure it’s an interesting podcast, I’m sure it doesn’t mean any harm, and I’m sure Feministe and Anoushka don’t mean any harm when they endorse such an overreaching statement. But, as I shouldn’t have to remind anyone here, intent is not magic and despite any desire to see this as innocent, it is hurtful that something insisting all atheists are still religious can be so enthusiastically recommended when at least some of us are very adamant that we do not support that hypothesis.

  2. Kierra
    Kierra August 17, 2011 at 11:21 am |

    I have some issues with the DADT article:

    Doesn’t it do a disservice to LGBT people to assume that they are a monolithic group that should all hold any other view besides the belief that they deserve full human rights? Don’t the LGBT individuals that are already serving in the military deserve those rights?

    While she might have a point that DADT may not be the Absolute Most Important Thing for the rights of LGBT people right this second, it seemed to be an easy argument to make at this point in history. When recruitment numbers are down due to two unpopular wars, it’s hard for the other side to argue that the military should be kicking out perfectly competent (and already trained) individuals whose only “infraction” was not conforming to strict gender roles. And if some bigoted minds get changed when they realize that certain members of their unit were gay all along, so much the better.

  3. Véronique
    Véronique August 17, 2011 at 11:36 am |

    So saying trans women aren’t women is misogyny. OK. Now if the author will say who is included in the category “trans woman,” we might have something to go on. Anyone who claims to be?

  4. Vanshar
    Vanshar August 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    I’m definitely not a big fan of the military, but that doesn’t mean that there are not many LGBT people who are, and want to serve, sometimes more than anything. We can’t withdraw our support from them, and their fight for equality, just because we don’t like how they wish to exercise that equality. A social justice movement becomes meaningless the moment you start judging others in the movement, and assigning your own values to their lives. I would personally never join the military for precisely the reasons described in that article, but I’ve always unreservedly advocated for Pagan soldiers to serve and have their faith respected, because the infringement of ANYONE’s rights is an infringement of mine, whether or not I agree with them.

    Not to mention the fact that maybe, just maybe, increasing diversity and equality within the military will help change the very characteristics of it that concern progressives. If we’re worried that the military is a patriarchal old-boys-club of privileged straight dudes, forcing them to accept and accommodate people of all faiths, genders, and orientations is the best thing we can do to CHANGE it!

  5. sophonisba
    sophonisba August 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm |

    Why are gays and lesbians eager to join an institution that has traditionally upheld the rigid gender roles against which the LGBT movement has been rebelling?

    Who ever said they were? What does demanding legal equality in all professions have to do with the desirability of any one particular profession? By this standard I shouldn’t give a shit about discrimination in any field I don’t personally want to work in, or against any group I don’t personally belong to.

  6. sophonisba
    sophonisba August 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    Now if the author will say who is included in the category “trans woman,” we might have something to go on. Anyone who claims to be?

    Yes, exactly.

    That, or selective pelvic exams for every woman you suspect of being too mannish, I guess.

    I guess the imagined ‘danger’ is that some guy might just say he’s a woman, for kicks, without it being true. I’m not sure what would be threatening about this, but maybe you have something in mind?

  7. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Ack, amend ‘podcast’ to show, please. Still, the point stands. How about ‘all feminists are man-haters’? Would a blanket statement like that get such an enthusiastic review?

  8. Chataya
    Chataya August 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    “All atheists are muslim”

    Considering one of the main tenets of Islam is belief in a deity, I would say no, we’re not. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  9. Azalea
    Azalea August 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    I dont think I can agree with the statement that the “only” thing women have in common is that we call ourselves women. There is so much more to being a woman than calling yourself a woman and I would seriously doubt that trans women think calling themselves a woman is what makes them a woman, I believe it is more than that for them and I believe it is more than that for cis women.

  10. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm |

    Um, the show description says, “Can Zahra have her Atheist and stay Muslim too? Yup, it’s just your regular everyday tale of boy-meets-girl-meets-1000′s of years of religious doctrine. You may even discover you’re more Muslim than you think.” So it sounds like a show about a girl raised Muslim, turned atheist. Sounds… provocative and ripe for interrogation, you know, like a clash of belief and culture. Like, feminism meets religious doctrine meets culture meets relationships meets atheism. Like, intersections of stuff we really like to talk about and ought to pay attention to.

    Sounds not something to get snarly about, but like a great event.

  11. Azalea
    Azalea August 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Also this shit with TSA….where do I begin? First of all, it was only a matter of time before racial profiling in airports became more inclusive. Secondly, it is crystal clear that this is racial profiling as no more could be hidden in an afro or natural black hair than there could be hidden in *anyone’s* thick curly mane. I have yet to hear of a single report where TSA has searched a woman’s hair who was not black.

  12. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    Florence, discussion is fine. If she’d titled it ‘Can An Atheist Be Muslim’ or ‘This Atheist Is a Muslim’, or some variation thereof, it’d be a lot less offensive. But she made a blanket statement, appropriating the experiences of all atheists to assume that we’re just ignorant and of course would agree with her if we listened. Would you tell a woman who is trans that she should listen to someone who insists that she’s a man, all transwomen are? How about someone who said that as a feminist you must be a man-hater? Those, like her statement, are false equivalences. They’re insulting like the first analogy, since many atheists have arrived at their non-deific conclusions through careful thought and deliberate sorting of ideas, and untrue as in the second statement.

    This is not snark, and shame on you for assuming that our perspectives and deepest convictions are just jokes.

  13. saurus
    saurus August 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    A note about the title “All Atheists Are Muslim” – this is the title of a Fringe event, not a thesis statement!

    If you don’t have Fringe in your local area, it’s a festival of small indie-production plays, with some comedy/music/dance acts as well. This is a very “typical” Fringe title – it’s certainly not supposed to be taken as a declarative statement on the world around us; it’s just the name of the act. It’s supposed to hit on the theme of the act (which it does) and grab attention in a concise way (that too, apparently). Obviously, everyone – including the Muslim writer of this piece! – knows that “all atheists are Muslim” is not a factual statement.

    Véronique:
    So saying trans women aren’t women is misogyny. OK. Now if the author will say who is included in the category “trans woman,” we might have something to go on. Anyone who claims to be?

    Well, from zero to fucked up in three comments.

    And regarding DADT – yeah, I am definitely not going to fight for the right of American queer people to go overseas and kill a bunch of brown queer people. I don’t think queer people should be in the American military – because I don’t think anyone should be in the American military. That whole industry is FUBAR.

  14. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    So theme of her act is that all atheists are Muslim? Or that she’s a secular Muslim? Those are two very different ideas, and two very different themes. If the first one is true, well, I for one really reject her labeling of my experiences and philosophy. If the second is true, fine and well and good. But that’s not what the title says. At best it’s unclear, and at worst still downright insulting.

  15. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |

    Emburii: ‘all feminists are man-haters’

    Whoa there, let’s not equate “Muslim” with something as pejorative as “man-haters”. Muslim /= insulting stereotype of atheists. While an atheist would reasonably not want to be confused with being a Muslim, there is nothing inherently insulting about being Muslim.

    Saurus and Florence already covered the other points I was going to make. Seriously, it’s a play title for a Fringe show – it’s going to be provocative and eye-catching, making people want to come see your show because they disagree with your title/are curious to see how you are going to “prove” it. This doesn’t mean play titles couldn’t ever be oppressive and insulting, but let’s include context in our analysis, given the blurb accompanying the title. I mean, seriously – “All Dogs Go to Heaven”! It’s a title for a story someone wants to tell, not a political platform. The content of the play itself could change the entire meaning of the title (not uncommon in theatre).

    I can’t even touch the transphobia happening in this thread already. I mean, wtf. I don’t even know how to talk to people who believe this shit anymore. What is your fricking problem?

  16. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    Here’s an interview of Zahra Noorbakhsh, the creator of All Atheists are Muslim. It’s a comedy about the real life experiences of the playwright. She wanted to move in with her white, atheist boyfriend without marrying him and consequently, had to contend with the initial negative judgement of her conservative Muslim parents. It sounds interesting to me.

    Véronique said:

    So saying trans women aren’t women is misogyny. OK. Now if the author will say who is included in the category “trans woman,” we might have something to go on. Anyone who claims to be?

    In a single word: YES.

    What criteria would you use? Perhaps you’ve got a nice, well-defined definition of what a “true” woman or man is? If you think you can confidently define the lived reality of “man” and “woman”, then perhaps you should spend some time in like-minded company. They seem to be pretty certain of their sex/gender paradigm, too. Perhaps y’all could iron out your differences?

    Alternatively, we could let some half-assed, conservative-riddled government set the location and height of the goalposts. The US government seems to be doing such a great job with creating laws that treat all women with respect and common decency. Why not let them define the boundaries of womanhood, too? I’m sure their definition will be humane and non-misogynistic. I bet the folks from the organization I linked too would love to put in their contribution. Ladies and gentlemen, start your lobbyists…

    OK, enough with the sarcasm. Let me be direct with you. You don’t get to define who I am. I don’t get to define who you are. I’ll go where I please and so can you. If I decide that I want to spend time in someone’s precious “womyn born womyn” space, I’ll go right ahead and do so. If I need to go to the bathroom in a public building, I’ll go right ahead and use the women’s room. I absolutely refuse to let cis people control my movements as a woman. You are not my master. I am not yours.

    Does that leave you feeling uncomfortable?

    I don’t care.

    Now, if you feel so inspired, you may call me a man or a woman-hating patriarchy supporter all you want. That’s quite often the usual response. I’ve heard it so much that I stopped listening so long ago.

    Be angry with me. Call me names. That’s cool.

    I do not care. Your words hold no power over me.

    I’ll live my life as the woman I am… definitions be damned.

  17. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    Oh, forgot to mention, I’m an atheist/agnostic in case y’all hadn’t figured that out. As for the title of the play: I’m pretty sure that it’s supposed to be provocative and ironic, rather than actually defining what atheists or Muslims are. Again, watch the video.

    Plus, given that both atheists and Muslims are strongly disliked minorities, I kind of get the comparison. I’m not sure that’s what the author intended, but that’s what I thought of when I first saw the title.

  18. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Jadey: As an atheist, I don’t like being lumped into any religious system. So whether it’s (believing) Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Shinto or Shaker or whatever, it is rather insulting to me at least. Please check your religiously privileged idea that I am not allowed to vehemently disagree with the idea of being lumped in with any tribalistic dogma. Especially since, at least from that interview, she’s not an atheist herself. Are you going to defend the next comedian that makes some well-meaning but sexist joke? This, just, guh. Why is it okay to handwave a title that rewrites an entire philosophy with pleas of ‘intent’? Why is it acceptable here when it wouldn’t be accepted against sexist claims, against racist claims, against homophobic statements or any other kind of (albeit unintentional) oppression?

  19. peggyluwho
    peggyluwho August 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    timberwraith:

    Plus, given that both atheists and Muslims are strongly disliked minorities, I kind of get the comparison. I’m not sure that’s what the author intended, but that’s what I thought of when I first saw the title.

    second.

  20. Véronique
    Véronique August 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    Wow, tough place to ask questions — and to look for clarity. That’s really all I was doing. And no, I’m neither angry nor uncomfortable.

  21. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    Emburii:
    Jadey: As an atheist, I don’t like being lumped into any religious system.So whether it’s (believing) Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Shinto or Shaker or whatever, it is rather insulting to me at least.Please check your religiously privileged idea that I am not allowed to vehemently disagree with the idea of being lumped in with any tribalistic dogma.Especially since, at least from that interview, she’s not an atheist herself.Are you going to defend the next comedian that makes some well-meaning but sexist joke?This, just, guh.Why is it okay to handwave a title that rewrites an entire philosophy with pleas of ‘intent’?Why is it acceptable here when it wouldn’t be accepted against sexist claims, against racist claims, against homophobic statements or any other kind of (albeit unintentional) oppression?

    I am also an atheist. I still think your argument lacks context.

  22. Sanoe
    Sanoe August 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |

    “Queer liberationism teaches that queer issues should be examined not just as they relate to the LGBT population, but to all aspects of social justice. This view is in opposition to gay assimilation, which seeks to normalize queerness and codify LGBT people as the same as their heterosexual friends and family. By striving for blanket acceptance, gay assimillationists fail to analyze the implications of participating in certain institutions — achieving sameness is the most important goal.”

    Translation: Queer issues can easily be broken down into two competing ideologies that allow no middle room. I will now create a group I’ve called ‘gay assimilationists’ and tell you what they think and what their priorities are. In this, I am totes unbiased.

    Also, one cannot both want queer service men and women to be treated equally AND have serious issues with the American military complex. Much like one cannot enjoy girl/girl porn AND have serious issues with pornography, or support same-sex marriage AND believe that the focus on marriage as the most culturally worthy relationship is stupid. It is un-possibile!

  23. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    Véronique:
    Wow, tough place to ask questions — and to look for clarity. That’s really all I was doing. And no, I’m neither angry nor uncomfortable.

    Veronique, if that was your intent, then congratulations – you have learned how *not* to ask that question, so now you have some more clarity on that. Whether you meant to or not, you stumbled into the age-old and (literally) violently-defended trope that “trans women are not women” or need to justify their womanhood in exceptional ways. People didn’t respond strongly because they are meanies who don’t like you, but because what you said was easily mistaken for the kind of transphobic, hurtful commentary that is all too common to find all over the place.

  24. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    Just for the record, I don’t consider it to be an insult to be compared with a Muslim and I don’t consider it to be an insult to have my ideas compared (or contrasted with) a religious person’s. As long as the person doing so is not doing so with malicious or prejudiced intent (and I think it’s pretty clear that the playwright is not doing so), it’s no sweat off my brow.

    That is all.

  25. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    I second what Jadey said.

  26. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

    Plus, given that both atheists and Muslims are strongly disliked minorities,

    Well, yeah, but now both groups are slightly less hated than Teabaggers . .. .so there’s that. . .

    An honestly, teabgger was the first thing I thought when I noticed comments referencing “Atheists are Muslims”. Glad I read the actual post and clicked through cuz wow was I way off.

  27. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    Also, what timberwraith said @22. I’m sure its well known I have no love for religion, but I can dig what the author is trying to do there. I honestly think its kinda interesting to see parallels drawn. Perhaps, apart from that one BIG issue (the existence of deities), we’re not that different. Dig.

  28. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    Emburii: Please check your religiously privileged idea that I am not allowed to vehemently disagree with the idea of being lumped in with any tribalistic dogma.

    Hey, I’m an atheist that farts on “tribalistic dogma.” I still think plays are cool, and this title is obviously a provocative statement intended to provoke the intended audience. Which is does here. The outrage is overkill, methinks.

  29. K
    K August 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    I flew from San Francisco to Romania a couple weeks ago, and going through security at SFO my hair was given a “pat down”. I am a blond, blue-eyed white girl, and I had my hair in a knot at the back of my head. I’d just gone through one of those fucking back-scatter scans with no problems, and no issues with my bags.

    This is not to say that TSA isn’t profiling – I am sure that black women with natural ‘dos get this way more often. Also, I could probably have avoided the experience if my hair was down (which I did coming home). Obviously not an option for the black women having this experience.

    Mostly though, I wanted to say that the experience was upsetting for me, and I don’t have complicated cultural and beauty issues with my hair. I can’t imagine how much more upsetting it would be if I was already fighting the tide just to wear my hair the way I want it.

    Touching someone’s hair can be very intimate. A hair pat down is another way to make you feel helpless and de-humanized as part of our ongoing security theater. Now with extra distress if you happen to be black! Ugh.

  30. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm |

    FWIW, I center my approach toward agnosticism/atheism with an anti-oppression perspective. Consequently, I’m actively concerned with the parallels between religious minorities and atheists. Also, the anti-oppression focus leaves me feeling pretty uncomfortable with stating that my philosophies about deities/etc. are superior to theists. The whole superior/inferior hierarchy established between various religious/metaphysical beliefs is what gets us into so much prejudice and fighting to start with.

    And yes, I know there’s a bunch of folks who want to convert everyone to non-belief. I’m a live and let live kind of person. So, that’s decidedly not my cup of tea.

  31. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm |

    DADT does not have anything to do with trans people, who still cannot serve in the armed forces openly, and for whom there is not a big movement working to enable them to do so, as they’re still working on much more basic rights, like employment and places to live. Continually referring to DADT as an “LGBT” issue, when it’s really an LGB issue, adds to the silencing of the T in LGBT. Things that helps LGB people do not necessarily help trans people, and we need to stop acting like they do, and actually do some damned work on trans issues, as a community, instead of just expecting trans folk to keep supporting our issues while we ignore theirs. (Not that the groups are mutually exclusive, of course. But the LGB community does keep expecting straight trans people to support LGB causes, and for LGB trans people to sit down and shut up and work on LGB causes and not complain about things like queer groups not supporting GENDA in NY.)

  32. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    I know there’s a bunch of folks who want to convert everyone to non-belief.

    Other than Captain White Boy Privilege *, are there other big names who say this that you know of? I would be very disappointed to hear that’s a common thing.

    * Dawkins

  33. Sanoe
    Sanoe August 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    @MadGastronomer:
    You have a point. I know that Canada and Spain allow trans men and women to serve in their armies, but I don’t know of any advocacy from traditional LGBT groups to push the US military to do the same. Both queer and feminist groups have a long history of prioritizing the concerns of cisgendered members.

  34. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    Florence, that was addressed to Jadey.

    Timberwraith, I can understand the similarities. And I’m not claiming to speak for all atheists, as if we should all be offended, but the title is inaccurate and did bother at least one atheist. I’m also not sure where talking about folks ‘who want to convert everyone to non-belief’ came in, since that’s not what I said anywhere. I objected to being lumped in with a set of people I disagree with, and from there you muddy the waters with words like ‘superiority’ that, again, I didn’t mention.

    Why is it that I have to agree on the positive value of someone else’s premise before I’m even allowed to have an opinion of something that directly names part of my philosophy? Someone who has a black friend is not given a pass to make racist jokes. Someone who has an atheist partner can still be off the mark in making comparisons of them to a religion. The first point has been made, repeatedly, on many articles on Feministe. Somehow the second isn’t valid? Now, when it’s about the most hated minority (according to the latest Pew poll on the matter, we rank even below Muslims in matters of national trust), it’s okay to sneer at someone who objects to part of their own identity being appropriated.

  35. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm |

    I’ve gotta run in a few seconds, so I’ll make this brief.

    Rare Vos, if you spend a bit of time on the larger atheist blogs, it doesn’t take long (about a thread or two) before you encounter people whose active, publicly stated intent is to convert others.

    (Also, Sam Harris has pretty much said that some people’s religious ideas are so dangerous that it’s OK to bomb the countries they live in.)

    I don’t think think this represents the average “person-in-the-street” atheist (at least, I really hope not) but the desire to actively convert others runs pretty strongly among the current batch of atheist who are strongly vocal.

    This makes me feel pretty sad about the current state of affairs of atheism as a movement. I’m hoping that calmer voices prevail as time moves forward.

  36. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm |

    Emburii: Florence, that was addressed to Jadey.

    And I did reply, but it’s still stuck in moderation. My response was thus:

    “I am also an atheist. I still think your argument lacks context.”

    I will also add a plus to Florence and timberwraith’s comments.

  37. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm |

    Emburii, not all of my response is directed at you specifically. Rather, I am responding to larger trends I see evolving in the atheist “community.” Sorry for the appearance of lumping you in with those trends.

    Gotta go…

  38. groggette
    groggette August 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm |

    Emburii: Now, when it’s about the most hated minority

    uh, no.

  39. Butch Cassidyke
    Butch Cassidyke August 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Véronique: Now if the author will say who is included in the category “trans woman,” we might have something to go on. Anyone who claims to be?

    I think your question is offensive and caused some reactions because you put the focus on trans women (and because the subject is quite a touchy one given the history of transphobia among feminists).

    Still, I think it’s pretty valid to ask what “woman” (not particularly trans woman) refers to, because while I am certainly not fond of putting it as a question of genitals or chromosomis, I am no big fan of the full “self-defining” stuff either.

    For me, being a woman is being part of a social category, and for me being a woman is being seen as a woman in this society. I think self-definition is useful for “borderline” cases (e.g. a butch woman who gets called “sir” most of the time or a trans woman who hasn’t got a very good passing), but saying it’s the only thing that matters seems to me to negate this social oppression.

    And an idea I found missing in

  40. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm |

    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheistSurveys.htm

    Uh, according to at least some data, yes.

    Also, way to strip the rest of the sentence from your reply! You know, the rest of it that provides a bit of context and admits that it’s according to polls that are admittedly susceptible to all kinds of problems. Still, there are numbers to support the non-quote-mined statement.

  41. Butch Cassidyke
    Butch Cassidyke August 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Sorry, submitted present post too fast :) So, continuing:

    And an idea I found missing in the article about transmisogyny is that when some feminists say a woman isn’t a real woman because she is trans, it means that it’s negating the sexist oppression she faces when she is oppressed because she is a woman, which is contradictory to feminism because it means some sexist acts won’t be condemned, just like forbidding trans women to access ressources where they can learn to fight back against sexist agressions ultimately means that some machos will feel free to continue their sexist agressions, even if they have no idea that the woman they are assaulting is trans.

  42. groggette
    groggette August 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    I didn’t include the rest of the comment because it’s really not pertinent. I’ve never heard of someone being arrested for “walking while athiest”; I’ve never heard of “corrective” rapes focused on athiests; I’ve never heard of athiests being forcibly sterilized because of their atheism. That’s not to say that shit has never happened but “most hated minority” is bullshit no matter what group you’re talking about.

  43. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    Emburii: http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheistSurveys.htm

    Uh, according to at least some data, yes.

    Also, way to strip the rest of the sentence from your reply! You know, the rest of it that provides a bit of context and admits that it’s according to polls that are admittedly susceptible to all kinds of problems. Still, there are numbers to support the non-quote-mined statement.

    I wouldn’t disagree that attitudes toward atheists are poor in the US (where I live, not so much – I even spent the last ten minutes Googling for “Canadian attitudes toward atheists” to see if I’d missed something and got bupkis), saying you find a group untrustworthy and that you wouldn’t vote for them (while that is not *okay* in any way) is still not the same as a history of violence and denial of human rights, so I think it’s reasonable to challenge your assertion that atheists are “the most hated” group – it’s too vague of a qualifier. Also, I wonder if attitudes toward atheists as a group might not often be mitigated by exposure to individual atheists (e.g., not applied on the micro-scale), especially if those atheists are also mainstream in other ways (white, middle-class, Anglophone, non-immigrant, non-queer, etc.). People saying on a survey that they find atheists as an a group negative and untrustworthy doesn’t say as much as how they will interact with them on a microscale compared to other disliked groups. You’d have to see what would happen if you put someone into a behavioural situation – i.e., having the choice as a white Christian to sit next to a white atheist or a black Muslim, who would they choose?

    Not to say that atheists don’t also get flak in person, as I am sure they do, but enough to question the “most hated group” thing.

    Happily, my Googling found some research suggesting that [PDF] as the atheists population becomes more prevalent in the public eye, prejudice against them may decrease.

  44. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    Also, yes to groggette’s examples – those are the kinds of directly interpersonal expressions of prejudice I was thinking about (as opposed to hypothetical scenarios or general attitudes toward groups). They absolutely may have happened, but there’s no evidence they’re happening more because of atheism than other identities.

  45. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    People have been denied custody of their children because they were atheist. A student had a cross burned into his arm by a teacher to try and ‘correct’ his atheism, and there are a sobering number of younger people shipped off to religious ‘retreats’ or programs that end up being rife with sexual abuse.

    Now, admittedly, the polls that I’ve seen didn’t question along the lines of ethnic/racial minorities and so forth; the options were about religions and atheism. I won’t claim that I know the numbers when comparing atheists to ethnic/racial minorities, and concede that on that axis my statement might not apply. Still, context. I specifically added the addendum on Muslims in parenthesis because that was the relevant axis in the conversation. So, again, context.

    (My context on this, by the way, is that I’m an atheist and I was offended by a blanket statement about atheists and I don’t agree on its validity. What else would I need to have a right to weigh on on this, then?)

  46. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    Emburii: Florence, that was addressed to Jadey.

    Sometimes, on the internet, people talk to one another when not previously addressed. My statement was addressed to your misplaced sense of outrage.

    groggette: I’ve never heard of someone being arrested for “walking while athiest”; I’ve never heard of “corrective” rapes focused on athiests; I’ve never heard of athiests being forcibly sterilized because of their atheism. That’s not to say that shit has never happened but “most hated minority” is bullshit no matter what group you’re talking about.

    Right here. Look, be annoyed at the title of a play none of us have seen on behalf of atheism if that floats your boat, but no one is going to win a gold medal for feeling most oppressed by a link in a blog post.

    Anyway, everything timberwraith said in #30. If you are actually here arguing that atheism claims a special category of oppression, it’s time to go back to Social Justice 101 and start over.

  47. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |

    Oh, and the many comments on Fox News recently about how we should killed, shot, crucified…

    At least they cloak their distrust of people of color with dog whistles about ‘Shariah law’ or birth certificates or political correctness. But they don’t have to hide their feelings on atheists!

    This is going far beyond the scope of my original comment, anyway, so I’ll bring it back; I feel the title was sloppy and insulting and, as a member of one of the groups named in the comparison, I’m not really sure why I’m not allowed to disagree with her. You don’t have to disagree with her or agree with me, but please don’t assume that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on what does or does not relate to my philosophy just because it’s more ‘snark’ than you think is appropriate.

  48. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    Emburii: People have been denied custody of their children because they were atheist. A student had a cross burned into his arm by a teacher to try and ‘correct’ his atheism, and there are a sobering number of younger people shipped off to religious ‘retreats’ or programs that end up being rife with sexual abuse.

    Your first two examples are tragic events, but outliers nonetheless. There’s little evidence of structural prejudice against atheists perpetrated by the state. In your last example, the work of independent churches perpetuating abuse and violence within their ranks has everything to do with that church’s dogma, and nothing to do with atheism at large.

  49. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    …and now people are weighing in on the relevance of my feelings on something that directly names part of my philosophy. Why am I not allowed to be upset at what I consider an unfair comparison? What would make my frustration ‘placed’, then? Who are you to police what I consider important in my sense of identity? Disagree with me, fine. Say as to why, fine. But in no other topic is it appropriate to overwrite someone else’s emotions as to how they’re supposed to feel. Why this one? What makes it okay here?

  50. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm |

    Emburii: Disagree with me, fine. Say as to why, fine. But in no other topic is it appropriate to overwrite someone else’s emotions as to how they’re supposed to feel. Why this one? What makes it okay here?

    When were blogs mandated to validate people’s feelings?

  51. Florence
    Florence August 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    For that matter, when were play titles mandated to validate people’s feelings?

  52. Katie
    Katie August 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Emburii: I feel the title was sloppy and insulting and, as a member of one of the groups named in the comparison, I’m not really sure why I’m not allowed to disagree with her.

    If you were not allowed to disagree, your posts would all just disappear into the void of moderation, or a mod would say something like “Hey, stop having an opinion, you’re not allowed”.

    Multiple people arguing with you on the internet? That’s just called “having opinions that other people disagree with”, given that people here are allowed to have opinions as well.

  53. Sanoe
    Sanoe August 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Butch Cassidyke:
    “Still, I think it’s pretty valid to ask what “woman” (not particularly trans woman) refers to, because while I am certainly not fond of putting it as a question of genitals or chromosomis, I am no big fan of the full “self-defining” stuff either.
    For me, being a woman is being part of a social category, and for me being a woman is being seen as a woman in this society.”

    My thoughts:

    Womanhood is a social construct. Female-bodied people are taught to think of themselves as women, but I don’t think they can claim to be ‘real women’ anymore than a thin person can claim to be ‘real beautiful.’ I think part of the reason ciswomen are hostile to transwomen (and cismen to transmen) is that the idea of a ‘fake woman’ supports their belief that their womanhood is innate/real* as opposed to a complex psychosocial agreement.

    * I’m not using real as a synonym for ‘meaningful’ here. Unreal things can be deeply meaningful. The $100 bill in my pocket has no real worth but its gain or loss is meaningful to me.

  54. Emburii
    Emburii August 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    Every time a religion has come up? ‘This religion makes me feel good, criticizing it makes you intolerant?’

    How about language used for folk who are trans? Generally people who persist in using hurtful language or ideas are piled on. Look at how people evincing transphobic concepts or languages are being (rightfully) remonstrated with in this thread.

    No one said it was unreasonable when one of the guest posters didn’t want the word ‘prostitute’ used, she FELT it was an ugly word and didn’t want it used and I was under the impression most people were all right with respecting her wishes and, you know, feelings.

    Not many people on these kinds of threads tell people who are also trans not to be upset when someone uses the wrong pronoun for them. The assumption is that their feelings and their identity are important.

    So, less about blogs and more about social justice. You’re drawing lines on whose feelings and whose identities are worth respecting, which is one of the ways oppression maintains its toehold on the world. For some reason, I’m on the wrong side of your line and I’m not really sure why.

  55. igglanova
    igglanova August 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    Sanoe:

    Translation: Queer issues can easily be broken down into two competing ideologies that allow no middle room. I will now create a group I’ve called ‘gay assimilationists’ and tell you what they think and what their priorities are. In this, I am totes unbiased.

    Also, one cannot both want queer service men and women to be treated equally AND have serious issues with the American military complex. Much like one cannot enjoy girl/girl porn AND have serious issues with pornography, or support same-sex marriage AND believe that the focus on marriage as the most culturally worthy relationship is stupid. It is un-possibile!

    QFT. I’m getting really sick of the vanity inherent in people who call themselves ‘radicals’ and ‘liberationists’ – they care more about trumping the ideological purity of other movements than actually improving people’s lives. For example, it’s unlikely that we will be able to extract marriage from its privileged place in society wholesale. If you stubbornly refuse to support marriage equality because marriage isn’t RADICAL! enough, not only do you deny millions of people happiness, you stand in the way of the gradual loosening of marriage’s power. I mean, isn’t it more likely that society will get rid of state-provided marriage privileges after we expand the definition so much that it makes people question its importance in the first place? Just try putting forth an initiative to strip marriage of its legal standing in today’s climate. See how well that goes over. Incrementalism leaves impatient people cold and it has its share of problems, but it gets shit done.

    As for DADT – even if you hate the military, nothing bad can come of forcing it to repeal discriminatory policies. The only bad that can come of it is the slight weakening of arguments that posit the military is the most evil institution EVER because xyz bigotry among the ranks.

  56. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    (Also, Sam Harris has pretty much said that some people’s religious ideas are so dangerous that it’s OK to bomb the countries they live in.)

    And Hitch is very “yay torture!” this is the reason i generally ignore old white male atheists. Except P.Z. I totally dig me some P.Z.

    Your first two examples are tragic events, but outliers nonetheless. There’s little evidence of structural prejudice against atheists perpetrated by the state.

    Yeah, I can’t agree with this at all. Not outliers, not rare and there are laws out there currently on the books specifically denying atheists the opportunity to hold office, run for office, etc.

  57. Diz
    Diz August 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm |

    I never thought I’d see the day when an atheist would participate in the Oppression Olympics.

  58. karak
    karak August 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    With respect for the thought-out, considered opinions of the author of the DADT piece:

    The author is quite right in the sense that the military is partially abandoning DADT for the reason of having more GLBQ conscripts and GLBQ-supportive conscripts (and kudos to the person upthread who pointed out the army is strongly trans-hostile, I am leaving off the T for that reason).

    But also, to the author: If you are not military, and your family is not military, and you don’t know anything about military culture, it’s probably not best to loudly ponder why people would struggle for the right to serve their country as the person they are. Being a soldier or veteran often becomes the most distinguishing identity in a person’s life, their overwhelming sense of self and purpose and community. At the age of 80, my grandfather describes himself as a Marine before father, husband, or even Republican. And a LOT of vets feel like that, and it’s no wonder that both of his sons went military, his daughters married soldiers, and his grandchildren married soldiers or became soldiers themselves. You don’t have to like military culture, but refusing to acknowledge the meaning it has to people is… baffling. GBLQ soldiers ARE GBLQ soldiers. That is their identity. It’s who they are on the most basic level, and acting like it would be easy–or even acceptable–for them to cut out either part of that identity is astoundingly ignorant.

    And I also think anyone who says DADT should be upheld in order to bar people from making personal choices is kind of a creepy person.

  59. Miss S
    Miss S August 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm |

    I’ll admit, I’m not that anti-military. My cousin is in the military, my grandfather served, etc. I am also not LGBQT.

    That said, it seems ridiculous to want to to liberate a group of marginalized people and tell them what they can or cannot do. That’s not really liberation. If someone who is LGBTQ wants to serve in the military, they should be able to without facing discrimination.

  60. Véronique
    Véronique August 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    @Jadey et al.

    I’m not going to keep going with this. I like reading Feministe, and I like posting comments. I appreciate the hits my blog gets from Shameless Self Promotion Sunday. I don’t want to get booted.

    But I didn’t want to leave the impression that I’m totally naive. I’m not. But I am naive enough to think I can ask pretty much any question, dispassionately. I really wasn’t trying to offend anyone.

  61. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    Have you never been offended by a question, Veronique?

  62. Matt
    Matt August 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    Jadey: I am also an atheist. I still think your argument lacks context.

    Intent is not magic, and saying “I’m an atheist and I’m okay with the title” doesn’t mean that all atheists are okay with the title. The author said something offensive and atheists are calling her on it. The idea that atheists are really just people in religious crisis or denying god is a huge thing. Huge. This argument is the same as the one the ex gay movement is using to put non-straight people in “rehabilitation.” And FYI, atheist kids get “fixed” by their parents or their parents religious authorities all the time. As a person in a movement whose goal is to support minorities, the author of this show should be aware of the way her work makes a minority whose identity she is using for her attention grabbing feel, and she should know that it is not acceptable.

  63. Sonia
    Sonia August 17, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    Not to say that atheists don’t also get flak in person, as I am sure they do, but enough to question the “most hated group” thing.

    In many countries (Iran and Saudi Arabia among others), being an out atheist can get you killed by the state. In many other countries being an atheist means you cannot hold public service and various other discriminations.

  64. Véronique
    Véronique August 18, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    @MadGastronomer

    I understand that some were offended. That was not my intent. I’m not a troll.

    As for whether I’ve been offended by a question, I suppose, but I can’t think of when. I’m pretty hard to offend really.

  65. Florence
    Florence August 18, 2011 at 12:42 am |

    Matt: The author said something offensive and atheists are calling her on it. The idea that atheists are really just people in religious crisis or denying god is a huge thing. Huge. This argument is the same as the one the ex gay movement is using to put non-straight people in “rehabilitation.” And FYI, atheist kids get “fixed” by their parents or their parents religious authorities all the time. As a person in a movement whose goal is to support minorities, the author of this show should be aware of the way her work makes a minority whose identity she is using for her attention grabbing feel, and she should know that it is not acceptable.

    I don’t see any evidence that this is actually happening. I see a title and a description of play that says nothing close to what you assert here.

  66. Darque
    Darque August 18, 2011 at 12:59 am |

    Florence: I don’t see any evidence that this is actually happening.I see a title and a description of play that says nothing close to what you assert here.

    I actually agree somewhat with emburii. I saw that link and immediately wanted to say something about it.

    When I thought about the context more, though, I realized that it probably is mostly harmless. However,

    a.)I Don’t have problems with people who take exception to it. It is a rather offensive statement if you take it at face value.

    b.) There is no evidence because this is a rather subjective area. Again, though, I can see why people are touchy because of all the people (here and elsewhere) that center religion and religious experiences over atheism. Was anyone really surprised when people took offense to it?

  67. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 18, 2011 at 2:36 am |

    Veronique, I strongly recommend you go read Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!, and learn to understand that your intent does not change anything. Questions can be offensive.

    For example, I’m bi. People asking me, “Why would you pretend to like girls?” is offensive. They don’t mean it to be, but it is. People asking me, “Don’t you know you’re going to hell?” is offensive. They don’t mean it to be, but it is.

    People asking me what’s in my girlfriend’s pants (she’s trans) is fucking offensive. Period. Regardless of intent. Some things are offensive. You hit on one of them.

    Asserting that you should be able to ask anything, and no one should take offense if you didn’t intend any, is absurd.

  68. Kate
    Kate August 18, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    I think an issue Véronique raised (intentionally? unintentionally?) that Butch Cassidyke touched on (I think) is that the premise of the transmisogyny post (at least the portion quoted in this post) is somewhat faulty. We *don’t* allow people complete and total self-definition. Even in social justice circles, we consider some aspects of identity mutable (for example, gender) and some not. Trans identification is mutable in some ways (some trans people identify “trans” as an important part of their identify, some don’t identify with the label “trans” at all) but not in others (a cis woman would not/could not identify as trans, or refuse the label cis. Assigned “girl” at birth and identifies as “woman” always means cis, except I suppose in the case of genderqueer people). The distinction Sanoe draws above between “woman as social construct” and “female-bodied” (meaning, I think “cis women”), ie identifying “female” as an immutable (biological) category, is broken down in the article and elsewhere, as some trans women identify as female, see their “male” organs as “female” because they belong to the body of the female-identified trans woman (“penis” as “clit”, or “penis as female because it belongs to a woman”). However, other people (trans and cis) do see identifications like female and male as immutable. (Both perspectives were on display in the post here at Feministe about using the word “females” as a noun.)

    Racial identification is mutable in some ways (a biracial person identifying as one half of her racial heritage rather than as biracial) but not in others (a white person cannot identify as black, no matter how much she “relates to the culture” or whatever) and is open to as much questioning as gender identification (the woman who questioned whether Pam Grier was “black enough” to represent black women in Jill’s post about that psychology article on black women’s attractiveness, and its analogues elsewhere). Queer identification is constantly under contention (do hetero BDSM practitioners count as queer, do heteroromantic asexuals count as queer, etc.).

    And that’s just the semi-reasonable ones–if the right to self-identify is absolute, then if I choose to identify as a unicorn instead of a human, nobody should say boo to me about it.

    I really hope this comment doesn’t read as though I don’t accept trans women as women. I do. I just think sentiments like “we should let people identify as whatever they want” or “you can’t tell a woman that she can’t be whatever she wants” are overreaching and demonstrably false. Obviously hard-and-fast rules about who is and isn’t allowed to identify as what are overreaching as well (you can’t identify as queer unless you’ve slept with three people of the same sex–”same sex” as defined according to me!–in the past year! present your credentials at the door!), but, well, it’s complicated. Much more complicated than either mindset allows for.

  69. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 18, 2011 at 3:00 am |

    Complicated, Kate? Sure it is. But cis people don’t get to define trans people’s identities for them.

  70. Kate
    Kate August 18, 2011 at 3:28 am |

    MadGastronomer:
    Complicated, Kate? Sure it is. But cis people don’t get to define trans people’s identities for them.

    I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that they did. I realize my comment was long, but if you’re going to skim, why even reply? My point was that “people should treat trans people as the gender that they self-identify as because everyone should get to identify as whatever they want” is a bad argument, because the right to self-identification is not actually absolute, and nobody really thinks it is. (Except in the way that anybody “gets” to call themselves anything they want, just not without questioning/criticism.) Recognizing gender as a mutable identity category, as I think I did in my comment, and recognizing the lived experience of trans people and their reasons for gender identification, serves that purpose much better.

    If you have a specific criticism of my comment, I’m completely willing to hear and address it, and apologize if necessary.

  71. matlun
    matlun August 18, 2011 at 3:41 am |

    Diz:
    I never thought I’d see the day when an atheist would participate in the Oppression Olympics.

    Why not?
    Depending on which environment we are talking about, this is not strange. In parts of the US it can be a huge problem.

    As to “All Atheists Are Muslim” this is obviously an absurd statement, but we are talking about the title of a comedy show. And it is so obviously false that presumably the writer is not seriously trying to claim that this is true.

  72. matlun
    matlun August 18, 2011 at 4:16 am |

    Emburii: How about ‘all feminists are man-haters’? Would a blanket statement like that get such an enthusiastic review?

    As a few people have pointed out, this is a bad example since “man-hater” is so clearly meant as an insult and the statement is also a believably real attack.

    A better analogy would probably be something like “All feminists are neoconservatives”. While not an explicit insult, quite a few people will find it so. Also, this is also an absurd statement which no one should be able to hold as a serious belief.

  73. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 18, 2011 at 5:56 am |

    If you have a specific criticism of my comment, I’m completely willing to hear and address it, and apologize if necessary.

    My criticism is that, much like the phrasing that Veronique used, yours is awfully close to phrasing that often is used by cis people to restrict and judge trans people’s identities. (As, indeed, so was Butch Cassidyke’s, and I remain unsure how she meant what she said.) It wasn’t clear to me whether you were trying to use weasel-words to say something you knew you’d get called on if you said it outright.

    So glad to hear you weren’t.

  74. umami
    umami August 18, 2011 at 7:49 am |

    then if I choose to identify as a unicorn instead of a human, nobody should say boo to me about it.

    I know you meant this as reductio ad absurdum, but honestly, if you choose to identify as a unicorn instead of a human (or: as well as being a human), nobody should say boo to you about it. And there are some subcultures where identifying as a unicorn would be perfectly acceptable, and I don’t really know anything about it (I don’t think “furries” covers the people who identify with mythological beings, there’s some other word for that) but as far as I understand it, those identities are very important to the people who claim them, while being completely harmless to everyone else.
    Why would you want to argue about it, even in your reductio ad absurdum case? It’s not really your business.

  75. Chataya
    Chataya August 18, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    Umami: I believe the word you’re looking for is “otherkin” which is a subset of “furry.” They believe that they have the spirit of a nonhuman animal, real or mythological.

  76. Jadey
    Jadey August 18, 2011 at 9:06 am |

    Matt: Intent is not magic, and saying “I’m an atheist and I’m okay with the title” doesn’t mean that all atheists are okay with the title.

    Good that we agree on that, because that’s not what I was doing. I was clarifying that I am also an atheist because of the tendency to assume that people always espouse the beliefs they defend or discuss. See? I don’t like my beliefs erased either. And I still disagree with Emburii. I’ve already explained why, and I don’t feel the need to keep explaining. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, just as Emburii shouldn’t expect everyone to agree with them.

    Re: violence against atheists

    In the US, I’m not aware of this being an extreme thing (as in, more than toward any other group), and that is the specific context being discussed here as both the playwright and Emburii are USian (I think), although I don’t disagree that it could be elsewhere. I did try to be careful to say that I don’t believe atheists are *not* marginalized and subject to oppression, but I’m still not going to buy into an Oppression Olympics story where atheists take home the gold.

  77. matlun
    matlun August 18, 2011 at 9:22 am |

    Jadey: I’m still not going to buy into an Oppression Olympics story where atheists take home the gold.

    Especially if you are a bit literal and interpret “Olympics” as implying a global scope. On the global scale I do not believe any US team would place high in that competition. (The competition for the top placements is very strong indeed)

    It also depends a lot on your definition of oppression. General societal prejudice or for example statistics on number of violent incidents?

    As a practical matter it probably also matters that atheism is much easier to keep hidden than for example race.

    So – quite a lot of factors, and not much value to be gained by this discussion IMO…

    (Still: I am happy to be a privileged atheist by living in Sweden where this is very much socially accepted)

  78. groggette
    groggette August 18, 2011 at 9:35 am |

    Jadey: I did try to be careful to say that I don’t believe atheists are *not* marginalized and subject to oppression, but I’m still not going to buy into an Oppression Olympics story where atheists take home the gold.

    Yeah that was kind of the point with my comment, although I definitely could have made it more clear. Do a lot of atheists get shit on? Yup. Is the abuse sometimes state sanctioned? Oh yeah. Does that make them the most hated minority? Not a chance. And I would still point that out even if “atheist” was replaced with any other marginalized group. Claiming some identity as the “most hated” or “last remaining predjudice” is absolute bullshit no matter what you are talking about.

  79. timberwraith
    timberwraith August 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |

    Ah, community boundaries and communal definitions of terms…

    I’ve grown incredibly weary of seeing skirmishes over who belongs and doesn’t belong to a given community or group. Inevitably, when people draw boundaries, those boundaries fall across someone’s body and someone’s life. When you spend enough time living in the borderlands of someone else’s definitions, you grow tired of the rigidity of definitions. You come to a place where categories are revealed to be crude approximations of reality and of lived experience.

    I lived as a boy for 17 years and identified as such. I have identified as a woman for 25 years and have been female bodied for at least 16 of those years. Can I “rightfully” claim membership to the category of woman? Many cis people would adamantly claim that I am deluded. Many cis feminists would claim that I am misappropriating female experience and identity.

    I am attracted to both women and men, but I exclusively date women because I feel a greater social and emotion draw to them. Even so, I still enjoy the aesthetics of the male form. Am I a lesbian? Am I bi? I claim both identities but there are many who would say that at the very least, I am misappropriating the identity of lesbian.

    I do not personally hold a belief in deities, but I feel that no one can really prove the existence of such entities one way or another. Even so, on some level deep down, I feel that I am more than an intelligent bundle of coherently arranged atoms. I feel a connection with nature, living things, and people that extends beyond the mundane. A deep part of me sense/feels that some part of me will continue after my body dies. Am I truly an atheist? Do I have a right to claim an identity that most have come to automatically associate with purely empirical, rational philosophy? Is my lack of belief too “soft” and ill-defined for me to qualify for full community membership? Some would say not because I venture too far from the path of empiricism and I am not nearly hard-line enough in denying the existence of other’s gods and goddesses. Should I join the ranks of the “woolly minded” spiritualists that so many atheists eschew? Would my godlessness be accepted there?

    So, I walk along the borderlands of several communities. I live a life of blended experiences.

    I’ve reached the conclusion that a lot of people will at some point in their lives find themselves in a social space where they belong nowhere. They will find themselves in a netherworld where other people’s boundaries exclude them from all/most directions. To belong in several conflicting social space and yet still belong nowhere is a lonely and frustrating experience. However, I take solace in the knowledge that “misfit” is a well populated land.

    Knowing this, I think I am reaching a point where other people’s boundaries and definitions of terms are fading into a kind of curious background noise. My life is mine to live and I’ll do my best to live it as I please. I know that some will be offended and angered by my willy-nilly refusal to live by other’s terms and definitions of social space.

    I’m reaching a place where I’m OK with that. I’m reaching a place where I am learning to relinquish a sense of responsibility for other’s anger and offense over my violation of their sense of order.

    There’s a sense of freedom in this and it’s necessary so that I can simply live my life. Oddly, it’s also helping me realize the ways in which my own human tendency to draw boundaries and create categories around other’s lives leads me to a place that sometimes fosters prejudice.

    Drawing a boundary. Drawing a line in the sand. Wars are fought over this. I try my best to remember this as I engage in my very human tendency to organize the world into convenient, approximate chunks of somewhat errant information.

  80. Miss S
    Miss S August 18, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    So, I walk along the borderlands of several communities. I live a life of blended experiences.

    You’re certainly not alone. I wrote a paper for fem theory years ago, and Gloria Anzaldua has written extensively on this topic. Alot of people don’t fit nicely into one square category. She wrote of being multiracial. As we see more interracial and more inter-religion, and intercultural marriages, we’ll see more people who can’t identify as one thing.

    Identity politics can be really tricky for people who have a fluid identity. Especially when you have two groups that haven’t really worked together, ie Black and Jewish, or White and Mexican, or Christian and Muslim, even Christian and Jewish.

  81. Dawn
    Dawn August 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm |

    Regarding the natural hair pat down, I’m wondering what they think anyone is going to be hiding in their hair?

    That said, why on Earth is “security” an excuse to violate the personal boundaries of people based on what is probably a biased and absurd system of who gets searched?

    What is with people and fondling the hair of others anyway? It always stuns me when someone wandered up to a random person and just starts petting their hair or tattoos or whatever random body part is suddenly irresistible to them.

  82. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 20, 2011 at 3:04 am |

    I’m sure nobody else is reading this thread anymore, but seriously, anyone who is actually interested in a trans perspective on definitions of trans and who is and isn’t a woman should go read this.

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