Spillover #24

A red "Keep Calm" poster with the caption KEEP CALM AND STAY ON TOPICThe commenting period on the 23rd #spillover thread is expiring, so it’s time for a new one. Some reminders:

  1. #spillover is part of our comment moderation system for keeping other threads on-topic. It is intended as a constructive space for tangential discussions which are veering off-topic on other threads. This is part of our blog netiquette, which has the general goal of making it as simple as possible for commentors to find discussions focussed on topics of particular interest without entirely stifling worthwhile tangents of sorta-related or general interest. #spillover is also a space for those ongoing/endless disagreements and 101 issues that just keep on popping up.
  2. Commentors are encouraged to respect the topic of each post and be proactive regarding inevitable thread-drift in long threads: we hope that commentors will cheerfully volunteer to take off-topic responses into #spillover so that each post’s discussion gets room to breathe and tangents can be indulged in a room of their own.

More detailed outline/guidelines were laid out on Spillover #1.
The Moderator Team will enforce topicality where necessary, and off-topic commentors who ignore invitations from others to take their tangents to #spillover are one of the reasons commentors might consider sending the moderators a giraffe alert.

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18 comments for “Spillover #24

  1. PrettyAmiable
    January 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    In other terrorist news, on Tuesday, an NAACP office was bombed in Colorado, US. It’s not being exceptionally widely reported (luckily, no fatalities or property damage), but I think it’s important to note to balance the view that terrorism is a thing brown people do to white people.

    Didn’t think this would be appropriate on the other thread, for obvious reasons.

    • January 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks for your consideration in using spillover appropriately. I just saw a link to a hugely relevant post written by Andrea Grimes for the Texas Observer on Tuesday: The Mental Gymnastics of Excusing White Men’s Violence

      Surely [Michael Brown and Tamir Rice] must have done something to invite their deaths at the hands of law enforcement?

      Meanwhile, a white Christian man plans and executes a terrorist attack in Texas’ capital and he’s just a nice guy who lost his way, a Renaissance Faire enthusiast in a tricorn hat who enjoyed tubing and trying to blow up government buildings.

      This response accomplishes two things: It obfuscates the role of racism and white supremacy in the construction of the ‘victim’ in our discourse, and it excuses white-perpetrated violence as a fluke, rather than as the not-illogical result of pro-gun, anti-government, and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

  2. Yonah
    January 9, 2015 at 4:56 am

    In Sweden, there were three mosque burnings in a week, the first, unsurprisingly, on Christmas. There have also been threats from white supremacists against the synagogue of Gothenburg to burn it down. The racist Sverige Demokraterna party has also made statements that Jews and Samis are not Swedish unless they abandon their identities. Amazingly, some Jews actually seem to be supporting SD — or are they?

    In my experience here, I have met MANY right-wing fundamentalist Christians who give themselves Jewish names, call themselves Jews to anyone they meet, and express shockingly racist opinions regarding Muslims, Arabs, and generally all refugees. They have not converted in any way. They idealise Israelis and Jews in theory, yet constantly insult actual Jews and Israelis, calling the community here dumb for being worried about increasing racism and antisemitism when they should actually be worried about scary Muslims. When the Israeli ambassador to Sweden condemned the mosque burnings, they insulted him, too.

    I have seen these people show up at Jewish community events trying to politicise everything, with huge Israeli flags in their backpacks, bearing slogans like “Palestine is not a country.” When we asked them to leave political statements out of our community, they called us “anti-Zionist” and even antisemitic. They are damaging our reputation horribly and I’m extremely worried that Jews will suffer the consequences for their actions, both from fascists, and when the anti-fascist movement galvanises here, and we are perceived due to this to be on the wrong side.

    Well, I am an actual member of the Jewish community, and a rabbi, and someone who has received casual antisemitic harassment on the street, and I absolutely stand in solidarity with the burnt mosques and against islamophobia. I think there is very good reason for ordinary Muslims to be scared here. I just hope there is something we can do to change the hostile atmosphere.

    • Donna L
      January 9, 2015 at 8:27 am

      That’s horrible. I never even heard of such a thing before, in the USA or anywhere else. How long has this been going on?

      • Yonah
        January 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

        I hadn’t really heard of it either — I had heard of sketchy evangelical support for the most hawkish policies in Israel, and of so-called Messianic Jews, which is a little closer to the phenomenon in Sweden, but my impression was that the latter group are relatively low-profile in the US. Here, it’s getting out of hand. They even have some little community of their own.

      • Donna L
        January 11, 2015 at 5:33 pm

        Messianic Jews in the US — the kind of people who used to call themselves Jews for Jesus — keep a pretty low profile in the USA (at least in parts of the country where there are reasonable numbers of actual Jews), because there are enough people here who are able and willing to explain that they’re not really Jewish. If you want to convert to Christianity, go ahead and do it. Don’t pretend that you’re still religiously Jewish.

        Although you still sometimes see them hand out proselytizing leaflets in New York City. I usually just ignore them.

        It sounds like in Sweden, these people aren’t converted Jews, but are coming from the other direction.

      • Yonah
        January 12, 2015 at 8:30 am

        Correct, they are from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds who declare themselves Jewish and appropriate certain mannerisms according to what they’ve heard Jews do.

  3. raymondbille
    January 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

    The BAFTA nominations were just announced and no women at all were nominated for Best Director. I haven’t checked the other technical categories yet to see if women were nominated for those, but fingers crossed! But still, how disappointing. x-(

  4. Angel H.
    January 10, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Just curious. Do other races (non-Black) have these types of conversations:

    A: “Did you here about [awful crime] on the news last night?”

    B (same race as A): “No! …

    …were they Black?”

    If no: “Phew! Glad it wasn’t one of us!”

    If yes: “Dammit. Here we go again!”

    • EG
      January 10, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      I know that as recently as a generation ago, Jews had those conversations (“This is not good for the Jews…”). And my father and I had that conversation when the Bernie Madoff scandal broke.

    • Donna L
      January 11, 2015 at 12:45 am

      It still happens. With Madoff, with others. And when you don’t know? It’s “Please don’t let him turn out to be Jewish.” And when someone turns out not to be? It’s “Thank God he wasn’t Jewish.”

      Because even now, you hear people using people like Madoff to blame all the Jews and say we’re all thieves.

      But do you know where it happens even more? Among trans women, within the trans community, in private conversations, private forums, etc. Whenever a trans woman gets arrested, especially for any kind of violent crime? We know that there are lots of people (TERFs and others) who will point to it as proof that all trans women are violent; all trans women are deranged; all trans women are really men because “no woman would ever do such a thing.”

      I’m sure it happens within all marginalized communities. The more positive examples there are out publicly, perhaps the less it happens. For trans women, there are finally some positive role models or examples who are publicly known. But we’re still charged with collective guilt for anything wrong any one of them does. And get asked to justify it or explain it by cis people we know.

      For Jews, we’re obviously a more “mature” community, and organizations to “make our case” have been around since the Alliance Francaise was founded after the Damascus blood libel of 1840. (A libel started by French monks, by the way.) But I think collective guilt is something we’ll always be accused of.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      January 11, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Just for about the past 500 years or so lol

  5. January 23, 2015 at 5:37 am


    Most people don’t label me as a butch lesbian. Nevertheless, I have experienced compulsory heterosexuality and violence for being butch ever since I was a child. You’re right that privilege is based on how society treats you, but if social perception were truly the only meaningful aspect of privilege, then not-out lesbians like me basically wouldn’t exist. How one is socially perceived, while sometimes meaningful in analyzing privilege, fails to account for all aspects of privilege.

    The fact that I have often been mislabelled as a straight guy doesn’t change the fact that I face lesbophobia like all other lesbians. Even when I am around people who aren’t actively lesbophobic towards me, I cannot escape the reality of my own place in the world. Minimally, I lack the luxury of escaping internalized lesbophobia, life-long trauma as a lesbian, and the internalized fears of lesbophobic violence at the hands of both men and straight women. Regardless of how people see me, I still live in this world as a butch lesbian.

    Likewise, this kind of dynamic applies to classes that are capable of wielding power over others as well. I know lots of trans men who were in the closet to themselves for ages, and almost no one ever labelled them as male. But due to internalizing toxic masculinity, they proved themselves to be abusers and rapists in their actions, because they hurt many fellow trans women I love and care about. Obviously not all men (trans or not) are like that, and trans men certainly don’t have the same level of access to male privilege as cis men, but ultimately they still have male privilege and they still benefit from it at women’s expense, regardless of whether they mean to enact misogyny.

    To answer your specific question about female-passing not-out trans men being viewed as competent at work: they may or may not be seen as less competent, but either way, they don’t internalize the messages of misogyny the ways that women do. Can it hurt them and upset them? Of course. That said, such perceptions don’t constitute misogyny, but rather transphobia in the form of misdirected misogyny.

    • January 23, 2015 at 5:51 am

      Another example of misdirected oppressive prejudice not reflective of actual oppression: there are lots of straight women who claim that they are targets of lesbophobia because some men think that their butch haircuts imply that they are man-hating butch lesbians. I don’t deny that this happens, because I’ve witnessed it happen myself, nor do I deny that this originates from misogyny. But there is a massive difference between a straight woman being mistaken as a butch lesbian and an actual butch lesbian like me literally being called a “d*ke”. There’s a reason that lesbians can reclaim such a word and non-lesbian women can’t – only lesbians are affected by it on a structural basis. We lesbians receive these social messages not as insignificant remarks, but rather as reminders of our status in society as evil, corrupt women.

      • ludlow22
        January 23, 2015 at 6:13 am

        That said, such perceptions don’t constitute misogyny, but rather transphobia in the form of misdirected misogyny.

        A lot of what you’re writing makes sense, but this point seems like a perfect example of what I was talking about re: reifying social-theoretical constructs regardless of predictive/ explanatory power. I’m not even sure how to turn that sentence into a set of real-world testable criteria. How do you distinguish, on a cognitive level, misogyny and ‘transphobia in the form of misdirected misogyny?’

      • January 23, 2015 at 6:37 am

        I’m not really sure what you mean by “on a cognitive level” here, to be honest.

        When I talk about that distinction you are asking about, I’m only focusing on the effects of those actions as they relate to an overarching class structure (since like I said, I’m a Marxist). So in other words, misogyny becomes misdirected when it is directed at a man, someone who benefits from misogyny. In the case of trans men, that misdirected misogyny ends up just being transphobia (being misgendered is a form of transphobia, for instance), which is still oppression of course, but it’s not misogynistic because only women are oppressed by misogyny. It guess it may seem overly simplistic to a lot of people, but it makes sense to me.

    • January 23, 2015 at 6:17 am

      Also, I want to note that, as a materialist, I believe all oppression is class exploitation. My views of privilege are coming from a philosophical basis that isn’t shared by many people here, especially since I’m an anti-capitalist and not a liberal, so I want to make it clear that many of my views are specific to that basis of understanding. I don’t mean to impose my belief in Marxist concepts such as value-labor exchange or primitive accumulation onto anyone here, even though I personally think it makes sense, and I apologize if I’m coming off that way.

    • January 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      I think it might also be helpful to highlight some examples of trans men having male privilege over trans women:

      1. I’ve seen many trans men on social media websites get tons of donation money whenever they seek help in covering transition-related costs. And many of them get everything they need, possibly more. Trans women, particularly the most marginalized among them, are lucky to even have half of their transition-related costs covered through donations.

      2. I know many trans men who have raped and abused trans women with impunity merely because those trans men were believed to be not as dangerous as cis men and therefore innocent.

      3. There is a study out there that highlights the ways in which relationships between cis women and trans men end up strongly emulating those between cis women and cis men with respect to power dynamics. Even though a straight trans man faces transphobia, he is nevertheless entirely capable of becoming the “man of the house.” I don’t mean this in the sense that people accept them and then they are allowed to enact masculinity, but rather in the sense that, acceptance or not, they have enough power as straight men to enter the same heteropatriarchal relationships that many cis men dominate.

      4. In the transgender support groups I have attended, trans men dominated every single meeting. Even after a trans woman would vent about her trauma specific to her experiences as transfeminine, many trans men (not all of them, of course) responded first by showing a small amount of sympathy and then going on to talk about how their experiences of transphobia are exactly like those of trans women. They would also often talk over me and other trans women. This kind of phenomenon is also found in spaces with cis men, even though overall cis men have more access to male privilege.

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