The California Dragon

by Bev Jackson

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The word ‘sex’ is having a bit of a moment. Not in the bedroom sense, but in its sense of biological sex, male or female. When J.K. Rowling tweeted “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,” she ignited a firestorm. What did she mean? Who could deny that sex is real? Perhaps you haven’t been following, but it has become impolite to talk of sex. Instead we must use ‘gender’, a feeling in your head, rather than the reality of your body.

Not everyone agrees. But those wanting to discuss the issue confront a dragon that blocks our path and will not let us pass. It is the dragon of transphobia. A phobia is a morbid, irrational fear or hatred of something. But this dragon roars not at irrational fears or hatred but at any discussion of sex. It breathes fire on everyone who tries to discuss the ways in which our bodies are at the heart of our experience. Those burned the worst are lesbians, who experience double discrimination, on the basis of their sex, as both women and homosexuals. If we can’t use the word ‘sex’ to define the kind of discrimination we experience as gay men, lesbians, and women in general, we can’t protect our rights or even discuss them.

What is the dragon guarding? Some have signed up to the idea that everyone has an innate gender identity. Where this doesn’t align with the person’s biological sex, the person is trans, and ‘trans’, according to Stonewall’s glossary, can mean anything from a cross-dresser to a non-binary person; from agender to neutrois.

Every person who rejects traditional gender roles is in a sense trans, but many do not want that label. And those of us who do not believe that anyone can be born in the wrong body or that everyone has a “gender identity” – that this is in fact a regressive, insulting idea – deserve the right to be heard, without being consigned to the dragon’s flames.

All discussions of rights based on biological sex are suppressed as hateful. Every academic who discusses the issue, from Kathleen Stock to Selina Todd to Rosa Freedman to Eva Poen, is met with threats and no-platforming. [1] Every researcher who applies for a grant to conduct serious studies of social contagion or de-transitioning, from Lisa Littman to James Caspian, has difficulty gaining funds. [2] They must not speak, must not write, must not publish. There is a word for this, and it is ‘tyranny’. The expansive definition of ‘transphobia’ makes it impossible to discuss the rights conflict that is at issue here. Because there is a serious conflict of rights: between certain of the demands of trans activists – especially with regard to Self-ID – and the rights of women and Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people.

Who is feeding the dragon? The answer, in short, is social media companies. They rule online discourse and apply their own rules for what constitutes “hateful conduct.” They exercise profound influence on mores and beliefs throughout the world. And they are all based in California.

Take five of the major social media platforms: Facebook, Google, Medium, Twitter and YouTube. The head offices of all five are located within thirty miles of one another in the Bay Area, California. Why does this matter? Because California has pioneered the enforcement of transgender language and rules, even when it is unconstitutional. In October 2017, California enacted a law on preferred gender pronouns in long-term care facilities. Although the bar for criminal prosecution is very high, violations could, under limited circumstances (in the event of “willfully and repeatedly failing to use a resident’s preferred … pronouns”), be treated as a misdemeanor. In cases judged to be the most serious, a punishment of up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine can be imposed for this misdemeanor. This is a form of compelled speech and directly contravenes the First Amendment.

In this cultural context, biological sex is seen as unimportant or old-fashioned. “Gender identity” overrides all. These beliefs effectively erase women and same-sex attracted people, who lose the right to name oppressive systems.

Social media companies limit freedom of opinion through rules forbidding what they call “hate speech” and “hateful conduct.” Those who break the rules find their content removed. In some cases, their accounts are suspended. In recent years, most of the punished and banned have been women. “Hate” is framed largely in terms of protected characteristics, which include gender and gender-identity but not sex. These vague words obscure the facts of sex and sex-based oppression and silence those – especially women – who want to discuss these issues.

Although these social media companies are based in California, where they are used in the UK, they should comply with UK law. However, no mechanisms are in place to ensure that compliance.

There is an urgent need for robust mechanisms with which to compel social media companies to operate in line with the law; to enforce accountability. Precise definitions – what does ‘gender’ mean? – are crucial. Once we know exactly what we are talking about, we can and must confront the Dragon.

Bev Jackson is the co-founder of LGB Alliance: https://lgballiance.org.uk/

Notes

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/23/oxford-university-professor-given-security-guards-lectures-threats/

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/kathleen-stock-life-front-line-transgender-rights-debate#survey-answer

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_onset_gender_dysphoria_controversy

https://quillette.com/2019/03/19/an-interview-with-lisa-littman-who-coined-the-term-rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

24 comments

  1. Brilliant. Cuts to the heart of it. Shocked by California law, how how how can it have gotten this far?? A lesson for the UK and people who think that this will all blow over.

  2. Platforms are set up by private entities. They can have any rules they like. 4 Chan and 8Kun allow racism, mysogeny, you name it… Facebook has only recently done anything to censure lies and misinformation, and it is still grossly inefficient. But perhaps when you are talking about Platforms,you mean academic forums. Again, they will have rules of civility that participants must abide with. None of this is “tyranny”. The more appropriate word here is “Fashion”. Right now, the fashion among certain kinds of academics is to exaggerate the rights of people with distinct sexual preferences. There are other platforms where worries about “transphobia” are not a concern. People who want to attack the whole “trans” phenomenon, or parts of it, can surely migrate to other platforms and have at it. No one is forced to stay on any particular platform, or be a part of any particular academic association. Fashion is not tyranny. If you don’t want to wear a suit and tie, you don’t have to, but you may not be able to get a job in finance. If you get academically shunned for criticizing the transgender movement, expand your circle and find other people to talk to. Not everybody believes in that crap. Calling this kind of “Wokeness” tyranny is over-the-top.

    1. It’s rather more complicated than this. We are reaching the point where Facebook and Twitter etc. are essentially functioning as public utilities. I suspect that they will be regulated accordingly soon.

      If not, they should no longer be protected against lawsuits re: content.

      1. Probably no surprise, but I sympathize more with Charles here. As someone who has been a victim myself (lost a Board of Director positon) because of opinions deemed to be un-woke, I don’t think we can say “Meh, private companies. No problem.” But I do not see, per Dan’s point, that facebook and twitter have taken to blocking, deleting, or censoring posts that mention biological sex. And if they do, I DO think that the cure for that is better left to the market and choice than to further empowering governments in dictating what social media companies can and cannot do.

        To me, the problem is less the censorship aspect and more the cultural balkanization and willingness to censor each other. We are becoming less willing to entertain or sanction the possibility of nuanced positions or tolerate disagreement. We are more wiling than ever to indulge in the ‘fundamental attribution error’ in thinking that a person with wrong opinions must be a bad person who we simply shall not tolerate. But those problems are not solved by having governments tell facebook that they must allow certain kinds of posts. Those are cultural problems.

        1. You may not see it, but it is happening constantly. I cannot count the number of people I have seen warned and/or banned for characterizing trans people in terms of their sex. Or for using pronouns consistent with their sex.

          I also notice that your comment entirely ignores the point that these social media companies are effectively functioning as public utilities. They *are*, increasingly, the public square. And it is intolerable that they should be able to control what is said and written in the public square.

          It is going to happen one way or another. If these companies continue not to permit perfectly legal speech and writing to occur on their platforms, without sanction, they *will* be regulated. As they should be. They are, of course, also welcome to relinquish the role they have currently taken upon themselves, which also would involve accepting regulation.

          1. “I cannot count the number of people I have seen warned and/or banned for characterizing trans people in terms of their sex. Or for using pronouns consistent with their sex.”
            Maybe the article these posts are commenting on was hyperbolic, but the impression I got was that the issue was whether we can refer to biological sex as a pertinent factor to phenotypes. Like, JUST LAST WEEK, I was part of a social media discussion precisely discussing whether OR NOT trans athletes should be allowed to compete in any other classification but that of their natal sex. There were advocates there who argued the “no” position, and none of them were banned, warned, etc.

            The issue of using a person’s preferred pronouns is different than whether we can say that natal sex is a relevant factor to individual formation. I see the former as more akin to discussing whether we can call Jill Biden “Dr.” It has less to do with whether we can talk about natal sex as a “real” thing; it has everything to do with what the protocols should be regarding addressing people the way they prefer to be addressed.

            “I also notice that your comment entirely ignores the point that these social media companies are effectively functioning as public utilities. They *are*, increasingly, the public square. And it is intolerable that they should be able to control what is said and written in the public square.”

            Because I think it is a bad analogy. It’s akin to trying to cram new things into old labels that don’t fit. A sidewalk is a sidewalk because it is THE place to walk on the side of the road. A company can’t come in and create a competing sidewalk. An electric company is a public utility because governments have deemed them so and in doing it, granted monopoly power to their provision of electricity in a given area. Neither of those obtain regarding social media companies. If people grow frustrated with facebook, they can go elsewhere and no-one, to my knowledge, has stopped other social media companies from arising. If the point is a more general “but they are so big!” my only retort is that you’d have said that about KMart in the 1980’s and myspace in the 2000’s. And you’d have been wrong both times.

          2. We are in the middle of crucial public policy debates right now that affect millions of women and girls. That someday in the future, like KMart, the current social media behemoths will no longer enjoy their current stranglehold on public discourse is no help.

          3. “If these companies continue not to permit perfectly legal speech and writing to occur on their platforms, without sanction, they *will* be regulated. As they should be.”

            I do agree with something like this more moderate if…then statement. Social media companies have tried to have it both ways. They claim not to be a publisher or clearing house, but they censor news stories and other content. I agree that they can’t have it both ways. They either choose the ability to censor and be treated as a publisher, open to the same liabilities, or they keep with the “we’re a neutral platform” thing and invite anti-censorship regulation.

          4. “This is right on. Kevin is being really cavalier about the situation, which is easy when you have no skin in the game.”

            Well, in a certain sense, Dan, you are right that I ‘have no skin in the game.’ I choose not to use Twitter, a cess pool as far as I’m concerned. And the social media I do use is used very judiciously. But in this difference between us, there is an interesting point. Am I underestimating because I am a non-user? Or are you overestimating because you are a heavy user? As I said in another response post, the stats I’ve seen for 2019 tell me that in the US, 78% of polled people are NOT on twitter. So, are we overestimating the influence of social media companies because these discussions – on both sides – are dominated by heavy users?

            As for my being ‘cavalier,’ maybe we have to distinguish two issues: (a) whether our cultural willingness to silence and thought-police each other is a general problem, and (b) whether there is a monumental and problematic attempt at censorship going on? To the former, I say I share in your and everyone’s concern there. To the latter, I can just say that I think the problem is less censorship and more balkanization. It is not that people can’t talk about the salience or biological reality of sex – WE’RE DOING SO HERE, OUT IN THE OPEN ON THE WEB – but that some very large platforms are more likely to silence those posts and discussions than others, and they will be pushed to certain (very free) corners of the web. As said, I have engaged on social media in some very open and vigorous discussions about the salience of biological sex, and not once was anyone seemingly censored or edited. So, even if social media sites are censoring these things, (a) the censorship doesn’t prohibit those voices finding ways to publish, and (b) until you show me otherwise with some figures that aren’t “I know people who…”, I don’t believe that this alleged censorship is widespread enough to constitute a huge threat.

          5. You are underestimating, because you are not a gay or lesbian who is desperately trying to halt an avalanche of legislation and public policy that will undermine the hard-won rights you have earned, proverbially 5 minutes ago, in the face of a powerful, well-financed, and institutionally supported trans activist movement.

            Without the capacity to organize and communicate via social media, which effectively is the frame in which public discourse takes place, groups like LGB alliance have no chance.

            The same I should add is true of operations like the Electric Agora. Not that we are a tiny minority — we are not — but that without the capacity to promote our content via social media, we would have no chance as a small outlet.

            Your anecdotal references to my personal experiences discussing biological sex are irrelevant. The fact is that people are being banned from the platform left and right, like Graham Lineham, Meghan Murphy, Professor Holly Lawford-Smith, and others.

            In truth, I don’t have any interest in convincing you. Those of *us* who are convinced this is a serious issue and that social media companies are abusing their assumed role as public discourse gatekeepers will fight vigorously for regulation. And I think it very likely we will succeed, as there is significant bipartisan overlap on this issue.

          6. “You are underestimating, because you are not a gay or lesbian who is desperately trying to halt an avalanche of legislation and public policy that will undermine the hard-won rights you have earned, proverbially 5 minutes ago, in the face of a powerful, well-financed, and institutionally supported trans activist movement.”

            True, I am not that. But what else am I not, nor are you? A trans person who firmly believes that their natal sex is unimportant to defining their identity, who is significantly pained – maybe even to the point of nudging toward suicide – when folks use the salience of natal sex to argue the invalidity of their felt identities. It might even be worth thinking about how, if gays and lesbians have ‘hard-won,’ their rights, trans people are often still fighting for theirs. Who is the more vulnerable group in that equation?

            Or more to the point, there are interests here on many sides.

            “The same I should add is true of operations like the Electric Agora. Not that we are a tiny minority — we are not — but that without the capacity to promote our content via social media, we would have no chance as a small outlet.”

            I hear something. It’s a loud drilling sound. Oh, it must be goal posts that are moving. Funny. I haven’t noticed it before. It’s been going on so long that the drilling sound sort of recedes into the background.

            Seriously, is the issue censorship, or is the issue not being granted big enough platforms to accentuate the message you published to as big an audience as you’d like? You are oscillating between the two a bit.

        2. “But those problems are not solved by having governments tell facebook that they must allow certain kinds of posts.”

          I think you’re forgetting here what the OP was about: the fact that a faceless commercial bureaucrat somewhere in California, following local laws, customs and fashions, decides what can be published in the UK. There would be a huge outcry if a commercial, world-wide dominant media platform located in Shanghai, Moscow or Teheran would do it, following the local laws, customs and fashions. And nowhere the outcry would be louder than in the US. Lawmakers would march the in the streets – or publish heartily endorsed opinion pieces in the NYT etc. – screaming for regulation.

          The problem is not the global village, it’s the global village-idiots, and I think liberal democracies have the obligation to control the damage the global village-idiots can do.

          1. To KevinCK’s point that people who do not like Facebook can go elsewhere….

            But Facebook, as a huge network centric business, is basically a natural monopoly. Other people can and do start niche social networks, and there are other networks with specific different angles (e.g. disappearing posts or image centricity), although if these are successful they are likely to get acquired by Facebook – but given the enormous number of people on Facebook already (and the cashflow that this generates for them to repel competitors) it is prohibitively difficult for anyone to compete with them seriously. This natural monopoly status is the traditional argument for (certainly) stringent regulation and (perhaps) nationalisation.

            None of this applied to Kmart in the 80s, MySpace was outcompeted by Facebook before either achieved anything like the dominance that Facebook has today.

          2. “I think you’re forgetting here what the OP was about: the fact that a faceless commercial bureaucrat somewhere in California, following local laws, customs and fashions, decides what can be published in the UK.”

            I think this is an exaggerated – bordering on histrionic – claim. Facebook nor even Google can control what is published, unless you get into the problematic territory of arguing that one only has a right to publish to the extent that others give you big platforms. But as I said above, I was JUST LAST WEEK involved in an argument on social media about whether biological sex was an important factor in deciding what categories trans athletes can compete in. No one was censored there, and as I recall, there were articles – ones that were… published – shared within that discussion on both sides of the issue. Amazon, it seems, is still selling the book Irreversible Damages, the book by a journalist writing about the trend of young girls transitioning and coming to regret it. (I know some bookstores are not carrying it, but most I’ve seen are.)

            There are, of course, examples of people being censored – think Megan Murphy – for repeatedly refusing to use others’ preferred pronouns in a way that, frankly, was ill-spirited on her part. But I just haven’t seen that voices who want to re-assert or re-emphasize the importance of biological sex aren’t free to do so. In fact, I’d remind you of the article we are all talking about right now, that was in fact PUBLISHED on a website out in the bloody open.

          3. “I think this is an exaggerated – bordering on histrionic – claim.”

            Well, histrionic … I think you’re not making a difference between the possibility to have free speech on “the internet” and the power that dominant platforms like twitter have. The OP was written by a co-founder of the LGB Alliance. The LGB Alliance was created by LGBs who thought their interests and right weren’t defended by Stonewall, the prominent LGBTQ-organization in the UK.

            The British gay magazine Boyz shared some tweets from the LGB Alliance. As far as I can see, the LGB Alliance is a pretty meek organization, but the backlash on twitter was huge. A real twitter-storm. Boyz suggested that perhaps people should listen to what LGB Alliance was trying to say – but oh boy, that made it only worse. Boyz was forced to apologize under the threat of losing revenue from ads.

            A great result for some, I suppose, but only made possible by the dominant position twitter has.

            Another example: the book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigail Shrier. Target stocked the book and a twitter user wrote “I think the trans community deserves a response from Target.”

            The next day Target responded to the tweet: “Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We have removed this book from our assortment.”

            Target rapidly changed course and is stocking the book again, but still – can you imagine someone on Electric Agora or a similar platform asking youtube to justify why they’re publishing a video? Nothing much would happen. Yes, there is free speech on the internet, but some speech on some platforms has more, much more power.

            Given these circumstances, it’s perfectly OK to be suspicious of the decisions made by some faceless commercial bureaucrat in California.

        3. “I think you’re not making a difference between the possibility to have free speech on “the internet” and the power that dominant platforms like twitter have.

          I did some quick research and at least regarding the US – Twitter’s primary market – 22% of US citizens as of 2019 say that they are on twitter. That means 78% – a decided majority – are not. Yes, twitter has a lot of power to manipulate what users see, and to some degree, what news outlets who want shares on twitter write. But 78% of US citizens as of 2019 are NOT at all on twitter.

          And lest we overestimate twitter’s authority, we are right now talking about a piece that is openly talking about the importance of biological sex. So, I’m really not convinced that twitter’s reach is as strong as you are making it out to be. For users, it might seem that way. But users are not a representative sample of citizens.

          “The British gay magazine Boyz shared some tweets from the LGB Alliance. As far as I can see, the LGB Alliance is a pretty meek organization, but the backlash on twitter was huge.”

          This seems to me like conflating two issues: censorship by organizations and backlash by communities. Are we saying that the fight is against censorship by organizations? Because here, it seems like your real problem – and I agree that it is a problem – is that certain views evoke (disproportionately?) huge backlashes from communities?

          The reason I distinguish is because, as I wrote in a recent EA piece, if your issue is free expression, then you sort of have to be open to the idea that saying certain things will evoke backlashes that are themselves protected under free expression rights.

          “Target rapidly changed course and is stocking the book again”

          Let’s say that part again, and maybe a bit slower. Target did what? It caved to pressures from certain woke voices and then…. quietly decided to restock the book? How does that square with your initial comments about how I am mistaking the real issue, “that a faceless commercial bureaucrat somewhere in California, following local laws, customs and fashions, decides what can be published in the UK?” Because, it seems to me like you are talking about a book that has been… published… briefly taken off the shelves of a minor player in the bookselling space, and quietly restocked and sold again? Where is the censorship here exactly?

          1. … a faceless commercial bureaucrat somewhere in California, following local laws, customs and fashions, decides what can be published in the UK.

            It happens, read https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/jun/27/twitter-closes-graham-linehan-account-after-trans-comment.

            As far as I know there are no laws in the UK that forbid calling a biological male a man; and I would be surprised to hear that the use of pronouns is legally regulated.
            Perhaps Linehan not a nice guy, but he legally he did nothing wrong. And yet, guidelines defined in a faraway place, some 8 000 kms from London, closed his twitter account, not only in California but in a liberal democracy like the UK too.

            Given the dominant place twitter has in the public discourse, this is very worrying. Did you know that claiming “only females get cervical cancer” amounts to “hateful conduct” for twitter and can get you a suspension?
            I don’t have twitter, facebook etc. accounts. But I still find it worrying.

            By the way, the percentage of twitter users is utterly meaningless. What’s important is *who* is on twitter and *who* takes it seriously enough to be influenced; and the percentage of users of other platforms.

            It’s undoubtedly great to have free speech on the web, but compared with twitter, this free speech is pretty insignificant if the platform reaches 0,3141596 % of the population and doesn’t influence “the people that count”.

    2. One thing I think I’m detecting is a gradual raising of the costs of membership into this social justice group. It’s actually quite similar to what cults do. So, in a cult, membership has, among other benefits, the benefit of making insiders feel like insiders, true believers. The smaller and more exclusive the group, the more feeling of belonging to it. When cults grow larger, you tend to find that this is when the purity tests and expurgations really start, because the larger the group, the more the suspicion of “impurity” in the group. So, inquisitions come about where members are expected to demonstrate increased fidelity to increasingly extreme doctrine and practices…. to show that they are pure and to keep the group small, for the benefit of true-believing members.

      So, it isn’t only that one must be pro-trans. It is that one must scoff at any mention of such antiquated notions as biological sex. And it isn’t only that one must scoff at notions like biological sex, one must also never ever question the benefit of transitioning, even to the point where if one expresses skepticism about the wisdom of letting nine year olds make such potentially momentous choices – or acknowledging that some people who transition don’t find the expected happiness there, you are out of the club. The cost of true belief and membership continues to rise. And the irony is that the more it rises and the more people cast out of the group for not paying the cost, the more the group is left only with true believers who want to raise the cost (and inquisitions) even higher.

      Will this just east itself, then, in the same way that the church of scientology has largely fizzled out because of this vicious circle?

      1. Will this just east itself, then, in the same way that the church of scientology has largely fizzled out because of this vicious circle?

        Yes, I think this is mostly a fad. And fads usually become boring and lose their attractiveness after a while.

      2. So the more they become a closed shop the less relevant they become. Heard about “repressed memories” or satanic preschools lately? Those were a thing in the nineties – no longer. I agree that the right to change gender for an adolescent is extremely dubious. Should we be allowing adolescents that kind of momentous choice? The whole thing, to me, smacks of a social contagion. But the thing about contagions is they play themselves out, once the destructive consequences become apparent. The thing is, if it’s an exclusive club, one doesn’t need to be a member. The far greater danger is Trump’s “stab-in-the-back theory, and QAnon. Hitler was head of the Nazi party for more than two decades. Trump won’t live for twenty more years, but he can still do a huge amount of damage to American democracy in the meantime.

  3. One of the things that I always find exasperating is the extent to which sophisticated people are prepared to tolerate feeble arguments when the conclusions are ideologically convenient.

    Sex is a great example. One encounters various arguments to the effect that biological sex is somehow not a real thing; these typically consist of pointing out a bunch of edge cases e.g. some people are biologically intersex in various ways, genetic and phenotypic sex do not always align etc.

    These arguments are basically just versions of the good old sorites paradox, which is of course not a paradox but just a flawed argument (probably all paradoxes are like this I guess, but needn’t seek to resolve here).

    The fact that, like most concepts other than those of pure mathematics, there are instances where there is some ambiguity around the application of concepts like ‘male’ and ‘female’ does not in any way mean that these are not real as emergent patterns in the world. They are perfectly robust and are successfully used by millions of people every day in both everyday and scientific contexts. And they are obviously far more robust than a great many of the concepts that are frequently used by those who reject biological sex (try precisely delimiting the applicability of ‘oppression’, for instance. Note I have no problem with ‘oppression’ as a concept, but it is not me trying to bin serviceable concepts based on flimsy sorites arguments).

    So biological sex is every bit as real as tables and chairs and galaxies and planets. Gender is also a real and important thing; showing that gender is related to but not identical with biological sex is probably the most important, and genuinely liberating, conceptual advance to come out of feminist thought, and is to my mind a genuine example of progress in philosophy. It is sad that this advance is now being rolled back by willfully confused thinking.

    1. I’m pretty sympathetic overall to the idea of the social construction of reality. I can see the sense in saying that biological sex is a social construct, because like all biological categories, it requires DECIDING what criteria (gamete production? genitalia? chromosomes?) to see as determinate of sex and imposing that classification scheme onto people (where the human-ness of the judgment gets even more evident in borderline or harder cases).

      BUT my sympathies in that direction also make it plain how wrong the social justice crowd gets this idea. To them, it seems, “socially constructed” really means something like “unreal” and therefore either “malleable at will” or maybe even “unimportant.” To that, I’d simply remind them that nouns are social constructions and the idea of a noun seems neither malleable at will nor unimportant to how we use language.

      I guess the problem I have with the way certain social justice conversations go is that (at least as I see it) theories are frameworks that are quite impressive when used in their proper intricacy and are quickly turned into blunt hammers that will be used to smash whatever in seconds. At the risk of quoting a guilty pleasure of mine, Stanley Fish, too much, but he nails this one: “No normative conclusion—this is bad, this must be overthrown—can legitimately be drawn from the fact that something is discovered to be socially constructed; for by the logic of deconstructive thought everything is; which doesn’t mean that a social construction cannot be criticized, only that it cannot be criticized for being one.”

  4. “Precise definitions – what does ‘gender’ mean? – are crucial. Once we know exactly what we are talking about, …”

    I was a bit surprised when I made it to the end of article and read that. I agree of course. But from the start of the article I was thinking to myself there’s too much overstatement, a lack of definitions, and too much equivocation for me to get on board.

    I also found myself agreeing with most of what KevinCK wrote in the comments.

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