In Defense Of Magneto. My Final Word On The Hashtag.
First of all I would like to point out that the point of the magneto metaphor is in fact “being nice doesn’t pay, don’t bother, smash oppressors” and has nothing to do with real life violence, I do not and will never advocate violent actions and anyone who reads that into this metaphor is a fool, it is a metaphor, a symbol and nothing more. You can always nitpick any metaphor to find holes in it if you are thinking too literally about it, and metaphors are never to be taken literally but in the context of their use. I am not responsible for your willful twisting of my metaphors to suit your agenda. Furthermore this is my view and does not represent queereka.
Next i’d like to point out the fact I am not a college graduate, I do not hold a degree nor have I ever been. So please take my information gathering with a grain of salt I am doing my best here.
Melanie’s article makes what appears to be some good points on the surface and they make sense from the perspective of an academic, if you live and work around other academics you are used to an environment where calm reason is the norm, where citing a scientific study holds the weight and emotion tends to be removed from the scenario. While academia is not perfect generally this is how it goes.
Since Melanie is a writer for queereka as am i and we both are activists for the same cause I consider her a peer in this instance and thus her criticisms warrant discussion.
Next id like to point out the inherent hypocrisy of trying to silence and denounce the hashtag, nobody (besides mens rights activists) batted an eye when cis feminists said “kill all men”. Most people (besides stormfront) didn’t bat an eye when people of color said “kill whitey”. They understood for the most part that it was hyperbolic anger directed at a system of oppression and not all people in a class. But when transgender people did it, suddenly the very same people who would not blink at “kill all men” were in an uproar over this. Before you reply with “but i would have said the same thing if i had seen that too” bullshit, the “kill all men” meme has been around for ages and you haven’t said shit. You saw it you just didn’t care enough to say anything now shut up.
Now id like to address “Accurately Say What You Mean”
The problem with this is language. privilege and crowd psychology.
Language is an imperfect tool to communicate thought ideas emotions and experiences and requires the listener actively engage in trying to understand the other person. They are symbols representing ideas but not the ideas themselves and as such the symbol will never fully match the idea. So saying what you really mean is impossible. The listener has to be determined to understand you or it doesn’t matter what methods you use, don’t believe me? Try logically debating an MRA or TERF or a creationist or a republican sometime. It doesn’t work because they are already determined not to understand you and nothing will change that, you cannot force another human being to change their minds.
This might sound counter to my own point here but keep following me.
You cannot control anyones thoughts, but you can change how people *behave*, and when people *behave* in a socially unacceptable manner we shun, deride, mock and shame them into compliance. While this is absolutely a double edged sword its simply how societies and civilization work. Think about this for a minute. Here is where privilege comes in.
its really easy for an academic to say to use kind logical reasoning methods because thats the world they live in. Thats how you convince other academics.
Thats not how you convince the average person.
People on the whole are not logical, they are emotional and use emotion to make decisions and use logic to justify it after the fact.
The very fact that most US presidents who win are taller than their opponents (taller people are seen as more powerful and thus a better candidate to the unconscious mind) demonstrates that fact. We debate about the issues all day long but at the end of the day most people vote for the tall dude.
To paraphrase the movie men in black
” A person is smart, people are panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”
People when they encounter someone outside of their “tribe” (meaning social circles or accepted comfort zones) often react with xenophobia.
Appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy and should not be used in academic or scientific settings, but the majority of people do not live in those settings and are strongly influenced by emotion. This might also lead credence to the idea that trying to appeal to kindness would be the way to go, but there is some scientific research that says otherwise.
lets take a look at a study i found ages ago.
“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.”
What does that sound like to you? The calm academic who might be persuaded by a new scientific paper or a logical argument? Or an angry radical shouting in your faces.
“As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. “In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks.””
The radicals were responsible for this. The loud angry voices demanding justice and change, there was no calmed reasoned debates there was simply rage tempered with non violence (and I applaud tunisia for their relatively nonviolent revolution its a good model to follow) demanding change NOW! “Good politics” didn’t get them their revolution.
“An important aspect of the finding is that the percent of committed opinion holders required to shift majority opinion does not change significantly regardless of the type of network in which the opinion holders are working. In other words, the percentage of committed opinion holders required to influence a society remains at approximately 10 percent, regardless of how or where that opinion starts and spreads in the society.”
Online or offline it doesn’t matter. You need 10% of the population to be loud radicals to cause change. if you aren’t part of the 10% then you aren’t helping. transgender people are far less than 10% of the population and even with our current allies we don’t reach those numbers thats why we have gotten nowhere, because Gay Inc does not actually support us.
“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”
Slow and steady doesn’t win the race.
Now lets take a look at examples in LGBT history that Melanie completely failed to cover that i mentioned in my personal blog. All while by the way making vague claims to LGBT history supporting her Instead of an imgur link this time ill copy paste words to ensure you read them this time.
Homosexuality is not formally recognized until the late 1800s. Now, it was generally ignored because usually a homosexual in that time period would consider his or her homosexuality, see that nobody else out there is quite like them, and conclude that it is the homosexual who is wrong because he or she is the exception to the rule. After WWII, though, the rising bar subculture of the late 1940s and early 1950s resulted in a change: one homosexual mets another homosexual, and suddenly they are not alone.
Two major groups formed as homosexuals began to convene in greater numbers: The Mattachine Society, and the Daughters of Bilitis. The rise and fall of these two organizations marked the homophile movement, a movement designed to teach homosexuals to mingle with straight society. The Daughters of Bilitis tried an approach of hiding away, trying to live as if one was straight with the simple exception of sexual intimacy. The Mattachine tried a medical approach: previously, homosexuality was considered only by psychologists, because when you think something is wrong with the way you think you go to a therapist. As homosexuality began to grow, so did public interest with the psychologists. The Mattachine let them run lectures about potential ‘cures,’ and the gays came to confirm that it was a medical problem; that it wasn’t ‘their fault.’ It is now 1956. Enter Frank Kameny: unemployed astronomer badass. The Army concluded that Kameny was
too hot gay to serve, and discharged him. With NASA not yet existing, astronomy was a pretty small field, and Kameny’s reputation reached his employers first. Problem was, Kameny was stubborn as an ass, and they just gave him all the free time he could ask for to fight back. Kameny tried to work with Mattachine, but it turned out that pretending to be straight didn’t do crap. Frank decided that he was tired of pandering to the assholes up top, and formed Mattachine DC Branch. The first thing they did was send letters to government officials saying ‘hey, check out our demands,’ which pissed everyone off, gay and straight, because they were acting really gay much more publicly than the closeted gays. Only difference is that the publicity Kameny gained for radicalizing his little branch of the Homophile movement allowed for other homosexuals to read about his work, and form their own communities.
In fact it worked very, very well.
Mattachine DC didn’t die out. It was overpowered by more radical groups, who were consequently overpowered by other radicals. This culminated in 1968 when the Gay Liberation front split off from Mattachine, and in 1969, when the Gay Activists Alliance split off from the Gay Liberation Front. Each group was more radical, more proud, and ultimately, more successful. Had the Homophile movement survived past 1968, gay rights would have gotten nowhere. It was only through direct opposition to the status quo that the gay rights movement got where it did.
I can say the same thing about radicalization of the Civil Rights movement and the rise of the Radicalesbians, but those require two completely separate essays on their own. TL;DR: CONCLUSIVELY, BY DEMANDING THAT INDIVIDUALS IN ANY MOVEMENT DEMANDING CHANGE ACT AS IF SUCH A CHANGE IS NOT HAPPENING, YOU ARE DEMANDING THAT THE MOVEMENT BE DOOMED FOR FAILURE. To claim to be an advocate for gay rights and yet deny the gay rights movement the chance to be as gay as it can makes you a disgrace to the movement itself. Shame on you.
P.S. I am going to make an additional statement here because I know you are going to try to change what the argument is about. You’re going to say something stupid about being like that in public all the time and then blame the extreme extremes; the assless chaps and the crossdressers. Let me just tell you that not only were these people core parts of the movement, but furthermore, these outliers were the ones who threw the first stones and organized the first protests; they were the catalysts of the movement itself and should be praised, not chastised. Numerous accounts of denying rights to transvestites and transgendered people after gay liberation began have been published, and a large portion of them deeply regret having denied them these rights.
What this shows us is that first of all assimilationism doesn’t work , second that getting left behind by the LGB movement for their own gain is not helpful and next that the louder and more radical they became the more results they got. Transgender people have been systematically used and cast aside by Gay Inc. since stonewall and its gotten us nowhere, they aren’t going to “come back for us” once they complete their goals, they are going to discard us as undesirable elements.
Because thats what they do right now.
The steal our talent momentum and energy for themselves while giving us back nothing.
Next id like to address the “catharsis” argument
Yes it is harmful to me as an individual on a psychological level to be this angry all the time. I agree 100%. But you know what else hurts more? Oppression. I am willing to make the sacrifice to my mental and emotional health to bring about change and thats my choice. I cannot speak for others on this only for myself but I have a feeling other radicals may be inclined to agree with me.
“If you’re not willing to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
I have been raided by the FBI and have had COINTELPRO tactics used against me for exposing government corruption. So don’t you dare try to imply i dont have the courage to suffer for my cause.
As for the comment
“But, whose approach sparked more long lasting political change in the civil rights movement? The Black Panthers or MLK’s affirming, open, and challenging but peaceful approach? “
Im just going to leave this here http://www.blackcommentator.com/398/398_kir_black_panther_party_legacy_share.html its a good article with its own sources so please take the time to read it before you dismiss the impact of the black panthers or make claims as to their goals and methods. I can’t measure who did more and I don’t think you can either and implying you can is a bit disingenuous. History has been altered after the fact by those in power many times.
Next as you failed to read my article yet again and claimed “why not #fuckcisprivelage” I already addressed this, it was tried and it failed.
Let this sink in.
End of discussion forever.
A final note on this subject many radicals are historically washed out of history post mortem and their impacts are forgotten by the populace, this does not erase the reality of their impact, the system of oppression we live in has hypnotized you into believing that you have to do things in *just the right way* to get what by all accounts is rightfully yours, that is to be treated as a human being with dignity. I’m not saying there is no place for the MLK/Professor-X style of activism, there absolutely is. But you need the magnetos too so stop apologizing for us and start backing us up and use your calm reasoning to explain to people why the magnetos are angry and raging. Instead of pearl clutching and trying to silence the anger of transgender people you should be explaining to the ignorant cis people why we are angry, how they are contributing to cisnormativity inadvertently and what they can do to stop it.
The last thing we need is you people apologizing for us, you wonder why I throw around words like ‘traitor”.
We need to reach the 10% level of unshakable belief, that requires more allies who are just as radical as us, not the fake allies who tone police us and tell us we are too mean.
Do your jobs Professor X and stop throwing us under a bus.
Final note: Saying “I’m not tone policing but” is still tone policing. Saying “im not a semantic squabbler but” is still semantic squabbling. You are trying to inoculate yourself from being called out on it by that. I see right through it.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Minority rules: Scientists discover tipping point for the spread of ideas.” ScienceDaily, 26 Jul. 2011.
Marcus, Eric. *Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights: 1945-1990, An Oral History.* Harper Colins, 1992.
Miller, Niel. *Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present, Revised and Updated.* Alyson Books, 2006.
The black panther party: Its legacy and impact today – Larry Pinkney
I will never blame assless chap wearers!
Then can you not see that people like me are the equivalent of that in our own right?
I didn’t get the sense that Melanie was advocating a completely logical approach void of all emotion. That seems a bit of a straw argument to me. I understood Melanie to be saying that it takes both kinds of approaches, but that she prefers a different approach than you do. You’re right that people are mostly not strictly logical thinkers (in the sense of classical logic) in their everyday lives, but I think Melanie makes a good point that if you want to effect political change–that is, change in policy–you will need more than anger. You will need studies and rational approaches with very clear language. Shouting at people who have the power to change policy without giving them any evidence-based alternatives won’t get us very far. Those kinds of changes are not necessarily based on emotion with logic and evidence used to rationalize those choices. Policy is often set based on who can make the most rational argument for a particular policy.
I’m also not sure you’re being fair to academics and I feel that you’re pushing a bit of a stereotype about academia. I have very impassioned debates with my peers, it’s not all Vulcan-like. As an academic who engages in activism and advocacy, I do tend to depend on evidence-based reasoning a lot. But that’s not to say that I have no room for anger in my activism. I find both approaches to be appropriate at different times in different contexts–I don’t think either approach as a blanket approach is a good idea.
I think in the context of Twitter and what that is, the hashtag did what you set out to have it do. It worked well. People are talking, debating, trans* people have used it to empower themselves. In this sense, I am weary of Melanie’s argument that it could be harmful. Perhaps I look at it through a utilitarian lens, where I see it as having done more good than harm. That being said, Melanie is also quite right in pointing out that our language matters. I have to strongly disagree that it is impossible to say what we really mean because language is imprecise. I think that is quite true sometimes, but on the whole I think language does a pretty great job of accurately expressing what people mean. For example, when I say, “I am hungry,” that’s a pretty accurate representation of a bodily phenomenon I am experiencing. And you understand what that means. I don’t buy into the idea that we all walk around without any clue what we all mean when we use language. We have a shared cultural context within which we exist, which is what makes language useful. If we did not have that shared context and truly could never express what we meant, language would be useless.
And I’m pretty sure you’d not want to argue that language is useless or meaningless, because then the whole point of your hashtag evaporates.
“Excuse me sir, may I have equal rights, protection, considering, and respect?” Yeah, that always works.
“Thank you for asking politely. We’ll consider it in due time.” (a time which never comes)
If the oppressors are comfortable, you’re doing activism wrong.
Like I said previously before the server switch and bunch of comments were deleted, this is bullshit. No one is saying this. Please cut this disingenuous and intellectually dishonest crap out.
I’m going to have to agree with Will, I did not get anything like that from Melanie’s article. It directly said ” I am always outraged, but I want to channel my outrage effectively and get things done”, not that you should not be angry. You should, we all should. Anger is good and we need to be loud and as out there as possible to show people that we are here and that we are not the ones doing harm, that the oppressors are in the wrong.
That’s actually exactly why I do speak out when someone says to kill all men. Other than only having heard it from straw feminists in fiction or from people who tell me that I am not a woman because I am trans, it is because I am angry at the oppression, not the trait the oppressors want to make superior. Some of the people who stand with me and are angry as well happen to be cis, straight, able-bodied, white and/or men, and I have no anger for them. None. They didn’t choose to be cis, but they did choose to go against cisnormative oppression. In that way, I see them more as the non-mutant heroes and civilians who help the X-men, standing with them against those who create Sentinels. Standing against the oppression is the important part.
I can completely understand hating all privileged people when most of them that you have met have been oppressors, but I don’t think being xenophobic in return is going to do much other than keeping it as tribe vs. tribe. Yes, Stonewall was needed and it is terrible that so many have used the anger and work of trans and crossdressing people for only the LGB part of the movement, but Stonewall was about being angry at a system that arrested you for not fitting into gender norms, not about throwing bricks at the Stonewall Inn or the people who would walk with you. I’m angry at how it was used later, yes, but I am angry at those who use Stonewall as a gays-only event and those who support that. I am not angry at my bisexual cisgender friend who is shouting at people to recognise that trans people were a huge part of it.
So, in short, I fully agree with you that anger, shouting and action is needed alongside the academic approach, I just don’t think it’s being cis as a trait that deserves the anger (no more than being pale-skinned or male does, sexism and racism would be just as bad in an alternative universe where another ethnic identity and another gender were the privileged ones), but the oppressors and the oppression that does. 🙂
PS: The reason I am addressing Stonewall and not the Black Panthers is because I’ve worked with Stonewall as a part of a project, but don’t feel I have enough knowledge on the Black Panthers (I live in Denmark, so History class didn’t cover them, sadly.) to not be stupid when talking about them. I apologise for that. m(_ _)m
I approved your comment even though it’s wrong. Now nobody can say I hate FREE SPEECH.
Would you like to go into more detail as to why, exactly, you think this comment is wrong? I mean, that’s a pretty simple reply to such a long comment with multiple points.