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Tue Sep 22, 2020, 08:34 PM

Judith Butler surgically dismembers TERFs, Transphobia, and JK Rowling

I almost feel bad for the interviewer, who gets owned with the answer to every question.

AF: One example of mainstream public discourse on this issue in the UK is the argument about allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender. In an open letter she published in June, JK Rowling articulated the concern that this would "throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman", potentially putting women at risk of violence.

JB: If we look closely at the example that you characterise as “mainstream” we can see that a domain of fantasy is at work, one which reflects more about the feminist who has such a fear than any actually existing situation in trans life. The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that anyone with a penis would identify as a woman for the purposes of entering such changing rooms and posing a threat to the women inside. It assumes that the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise. This is a rich fantasy, and one that comes from powerful fears, but it does not describe a social reality. Trans women are often discriminated against in men’s bathrooms, and their modes of self-identification are ways of describing a lived reality, one that cannot be captured or regulated by the fantasies brought to bear upon them. The fact that such fantasies pass as public argument is itself cause for worry.

AF: I want to challenge you on the term “terf”, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, which some people see as a slur.

JB: I am not aware that terf is used as a slur. I wonder what name self-declared feminists who wish to exclude trans women from women's spaces would be called? If they do favour exclusion, why not call them exclusionary? If they understand themselves as belonging to that strain of radical feminism that opposes gender reassignment, why not call them radical feminists? My only regret is that there was a movement of radical sexual freedom that once travelled under the name of radical feminism, but it has sadly morphed into a campaign to pathologise trans and gender non-conforming peoples. My sense is that we have to renew the feminist commitment to gender equality and gender freedom in order to affirm the complexity of gendered lives as they are currently being lived.


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Reply Judith Butler surgically dismembers TERFs, Transphobia, and JK Rowling (Original post)
tishaLA Sep 2020 OP
delisen Sep 2020 #1
tishaLA Sep 2020 #2

Response to tishaLA (Original post)

Tue Sep 22, 2020, 11:17 PM

1. Who used the weird term "surgically dismembered?" and what does that suggest?

Reminds me of Susan Sarandon talking about not being a "vagina voter." to defend her curious preference for letting Donald Trump get into the Oval office.Women being reduced to body parts. Ah women, remember how Freud under pressure from his male colleagues retracted his finding on women being sexually abused as girls and decided they were just fantasizing about being molested and raped? Butler's analysis seems much like Freud's convoluted re-assessment

In any case, maybe New Statesman should consider a name change.


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Response to delisen (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 23, 2020, 12:14 AM

2. I used it in the title to this thread

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