Can we learn to be “colourblind”?

Abstract: Probably not.

Psychology tends to take a rather gloomy view on racism: that we automatically categorise people on the basis of race, and there’s little that can be done about that. So I was interested to read this article by Vaughan Bell, reporting on some research from ten years ago which suggests that categorising people based on race can actually be unlearned really, really super-quickly. Could it really be true? Is overcoming racism that easy?

The paper, “Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization” by Kurzban, Tooby and Cosmides, published in PNAS (hur hur) certainly seems equally optimistic about the swiftness of unlearning racism. However, they’re being a little bit too optimistic.

The way they studied categorising people on the basis of race was by using a memory confusion protocol. Participants (most of whom were white, hispanic or Asian-American; no data on the relative ratios here, and the authors folded hispanic and white into the same category) saw a sequence of sentences with a photo of who had said it. From what the people said, it was apparent who was in a group with whom, and that there were two groups at odds with one another. After this, participants were shown the sentences, and had to remember who had said it. Errors, according to this paradigm, are telling about how participants are categorising the speakers, and they would be more likely to make within-category errors than between categories, i.e. they would mix up two people from the same group rather than two people from different groups. So looking at errors suggests how participants are grouping people together.

The photos used were of two black men and two white men per group, with the exception of a condition where the authors tested the effects of gender, so photographs of women were also included. What is known that in one experiment the people depicted in the photos all wore the same colour baseball jersey, while in the second experiment people in each rival group wore a different coloured jersey.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Ultimately, what was found was that in the first experiment, participants made more errors in categorising on the basis of race. In the second experiment, participants used the colour of the jersey rather than skin colour as a method of classification. In other experiments, perception of sex differences didn’t go away: the authors had hypothesised that this was more deeply encoded than race.

Well, that seems like pretty strong evidence yes? Not really. First and foremost, it is crucial to remember that this was a laboratory study, with variables strictly controlled. It probably is more generalisable than it was when the study was conducted–ten years ago, there wasn’t much communication taking place as intergroup conflicts between people represented only by short sentences and a picture of themselves, but these days there’s Twitter. However, we don’t tend to fall into these neat little groups which are equally racially balanced (and gender-balanced).

The implicatations of this research are explored more fully in a study from 2009, from Bavel and Cunningham. In this study, participants were assigned to a group which didn’t really exist–in their group, were twelve photographs of men, six black and six white. They were also told about the existence of another group, which featured a similarly mixed group. After learning the faces of the people in their own group and the outgroup, participants were tested on automatic responses to liking or disliking these faces. There was also a control group, which were not assigned membership to either group, but participated in the learning and evaluation task.

The results are kind of complicated, but ultimately, people are still kind of racist towards black people in the outgroup, while not racist towards white people. Basically, they were more likely to negatively evaluate black faces in the outgroup, while more likely to positively evaluate black faces in the ingroup, while positive evaluations of white faces held steady throughout. Also, across all conditions, black faces were still less liked than white faces.

Admittedly, this study has a lot of holes again. Once again, we’re looking at a lab study, and there are problems with the sample: there is no report of the race of the participants, which would be useful to know, and the majority of participants were women, while all of the stimulus faces were male faces.

At any rate, what this body of research is showing is not that it is easy to suddenly not see race but, rather, that we dislike black people less if we feel like we’re on the same side as them. Meanwhile, the other study shows we’re less likely to mix them up if they’re wearing their group affiliation really visibly. If anything, it somewhat exposes the underlying racism of the phrase “I don’t see colour”, so beloved by some white folk.

This is one of those instances where once again, it is crucial to be aware of the biases that our naughty little brains throw at us, and consciously strive to overcome them and work against them. That, and it’s important to remember that racism probably won’t magically end if everybody wears bright baseball jerseys to show off what team they’re on.

Shitbrained bollocks of the day: fanny edition

Leave it out Stavvers, it’s not worth it, my inner monologue screams.

But no. No irritation too small for me. No tripe too trivial to miss the opportunity to open dialogues which are missed by the mainstream. Today is some utter bollocks in the Guardian (as it so often is). It’s title is mercifully reflective of its content: “Shame on those who practise intimate cosmetic surgery“.

It’s not often that a piece of shaming is so helpfully labelled, as make no mistake, this is what the entire article is about. And no, it’s not about shaming cosmetic surgeons who practise it, which would be, while still problematic, a little better. It is by someone who thinks she’s being funny, shaming women for wanting to have cosmetic surgery on their genitals. Cis women. It’s abundantly clear by “women” she means “cis women”, as these sorts are wont to do.

Now, there is a conversation to be had about cosmetic surgery on cis women’s genitals, the kind of thing which is done entirely for aesthetic reasons. Most of the surgeons who do it are men who have never had a cunt, and most of them thing that what they’re doing will have no effect on sexual pleasure, which is something a lot of people with cunts disagree with. They’re also doing it for money, profiting off of a beauty ideal which they themselves helped create by performing similar procedures on porn performers, which is, a lot of the time, the only cunts that heterosexual cis women get to look at. They’re creating a need for a product they provide, and it’s a vicious circle and it’s fucked up and let’s not even begin to unpick all of the intersecting bollocks: why is that ideal cunt image we’re sold a white woman’s cunt? Why don’t we talk about how much the medical establishment fails trans women? To have these conversations, we cannot shame people for taking the bargain of undergoing these procedures. It’s fucking complicated, it’s fucking structural, and nothing’s going to change with shame.

Alas, this is not the conversation the Guardian wants to have. The Guardian’s conclusion?

That it would be nice if more boyfriends said they liked their partner’s cunt.

I despair, I really do.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

You know the drill by now.

Insurrections at the intersections: feminism, intersectionality and anarchism (Abbey Volcano and J Rogue)- A really good critique of what is lacking from intersectionality. A must-read, it’ll only make us stronger.

A slightly different plea for unity (Blue Laser)- Dear friends, this is a manifesto for unity. Read it, share it, live by it.

Choice, neoliberal, libertarian feminism and intersectionality bullies (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia critiques a dominant model of feminism and how women erased from this model are labelled bullies.

What I mean when I say I’m sex critical (Kitty Stryker)- Kitty identifies and outlines her critique of sex and sex positivity. Sex critical strikes me as a very useful frame of reference.

Embracing uncertainty: What does it really mean? (Rewriting the Rules)- Meg Barker discusses embracing uncertainty in relationships, and what it means to do it.

Let’s Have a Conversation About Compromise and Consent (Writing from Factor X)- An interesting critique of enthusiastic consent, from an asexual perspective, highlighting things I’d never given much thought before.

Ally club (thisisthinprivilege)- A useful set of rules for allies, presented in a fun way.

“We’re not all like that” (Loud & Proud)- On why white allies shouldn’t just pop up saying “we’re not all like that”.

“White People Fatigue Syndrome” (The Feminist Griote)- An excellent piece on how exhausting it can be supporting white allies. So, white allies, let’s try to get better.

Don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington (itsjustahobby)- Some anti sex work feminists ask “but what if your daughter wanted to be a sex worker?” Jem hands them their arses.

If you’re mentally ill, you can’t make decisions of your own free will (Fat and Sassy)- Unpicking further oppressions in an anti sex work line.

Deciphering the Anti Intersectional White Feminists and TERFS (Sam Ambreen)- A handy translation guide.

Why The Trans Community Hates Dr. Janice G. Raymond (TransGriot)- A reminder of just how long the nastiness from TERFs has been around.

“Lesbian” is not a dirty word (Thé Tulloch)- On erasure of the lesbian contribution to feminism.

I’m staying (Mister Gryphon)- A personal account of discovery of gender and sexual identity.

A Generation of Voyeurs (Red Headed League)- An analysis of online feminism and how it can work.

This is what rape culture looks like (Maeve)- Maeve bravely analyses a few samples of shit Ched Evans fans say.

A defence of twitter feminism (zedkat)- Sneering at Twitter feminists seems to be a hobby among the commentariat. Zed writes a defence, with reference to a very tangible victory.


In which I do my bit for poly visibility

I did a thing in ES Magazine about my poly life.

P.S. Yes, they got my name wrong. I’m not too fussed. I rather like being Stavvers.

After a half-assed tweet, they’be put it under my actual name, which umis also ace, as I rather like my IRL name. As a bonus, now when you google Zoe Stavri, you’ll probably get “five-in-a-bed romps”, which means I have a decent lawsuit against any potential employers who won’t interview me 😉

This is the bestest briefing on intersectionality ever- with added description

Miriam Dobson has made this brilliant little infographic on intersectionality. Description beneath the image. If you liked it, you can find Miriam’s work here.



This is an infographic featuring text and descriptions


1. A drawing of a triangle with a smiley face. The triangle is two shades of blue striped. A speech bubble comes from his mouth saying “Hi”. It is captioned “This is Bob”.

2. Caption: “Bob is a stripey blue triangle AND SHOULD BE PROUD.” Bob has a speech bubble saying “YAY ME”.

3. Caption: “SOME PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE BOB. BOB FACES OPPRESSION FOR BEING A TRIANGLE AND FOR HAVING STRIPES” Image of Bob with a sad face, positioned between stick figures holding a sign saying “Down with stripes” and another set of stick figures holding a sign saying “Down with triangles”.

4. Caption: “LUCKILY THERE ARE LIBERATION GROUPS! BUT THEY AREN’T INTERSECTIONAL. SO THEY LOOK LIKE THIS” An arrow points to two rooms, separated by a barbed wire fence. A room with a sign saying “welcome triangles” with triangles inside of many different solid colours. A room with a sign saying “welcome stripes” featuring many different shapes with stripes.

5. Caption: “BOB CAN’T WORK OUT WHERE TO GO”. Bob has a sad face. His thought bubble says “Am I more of a stripe, or a triangle?”

6. Caption: “THEY DON’T TALK TO EACH OTHER. IN FACT THEY COMPETE”. A solid yellow triangle with a cross face is next to a pink striped circle with a cross face. The solid yellow triangle says “I’m more oppressed”. The pink striped circle says “No! I am! I deserve more!”

7. Caption: “BOB WISHES TRIANGLES AND STRIPES COULD WORK TOGETHER”. An arrow points to a red striped circle with an open mouth, and a solid blue triangle with an open mouth. The red striped circle says “Oppression of one affects us all”. The solid blue triangle says “No liberation without equal representation”.



RadFem2013 vs the MRAs: what really happened and who’s the baddie?

For the second year running, the RadFem conference has lost its venue. It’s been difficult finding out the long and short of it, as the conference organisers are claiming that men’s rights activists (MRAs) are responsible, and the MRAs are also claiming victory, and there’s little from the London Irish Centre itself. The RadFem2013 line is that they were subjected to harassment from MRAs, while the MRAs claim that they spearheaded a campaign. I’m not going to link to any statements from either, as both are, in my view, hate groups.

Unfortunately, the only statement I could find from the venue itself was unhelpfully in the Times, hidden behind a paywall, which means that both RadFem2013 and the MRAs can continue to push their own narratives. Luckily, I can get behind that paywall, so here’s what the venue had to say (ETA: Screenshot of the Times article part 1 and part 2, courtesy of @WeekWoman):

“Quite a few of the complaints were from the transgender community and then a men’s group came along the other day to hand out leaflets about why the event should not be held here.

“While our commercial bookings subcontractor [an events firm called Off to Work] has a certain amount of freedom to use the centre when we are not using it for cultural events, if it comes to the charity’s attention that an event goes against our policy, then we will point it out to them.

“We did some research into RadFem and discovered certain language was used and some statements were made about transgender people that would go against our equalities and diversity policy.

“We have discussed with our subcontractor Off to Work how to avoid such confusion in future and have strengthened our internal communications as a result.”

Well, that clears matters up nicely, and thank you, London Irish Centre, for clarifying what actually happens. A pity I couldn’t find this important information anywhere else except behind a fucking paywall.

So, it appears that for the second year running, the venue pulled out because of RadFem2013’s transphobic stance, where, once again, trans women will be excluded from attending. Speakers at the conference include academic transphobes like Sheila Jeffreys, and more dangerous transphobes like someone whose name I am actually scared to mention because she has a history of endangering trans and queer folk because the hate runs so strong in her. This is not an exaggeration. That person has a habit of doxxing anyone she suspects of being trans, calling employers, and sometimes even schools of trans and queer folk. If anything, London Irish Centre are understating matters when they say that the RadFem2013 conference goes against their equalities and diversities policy. To some women, the RadFem2013 conference organisers and speakers are a persistent and dangerous threat.

But does this make the MRAs the good guys here? Fuck no. Their beef with RadFem2013 went as far as “waaah we hate feminism”. They merely opportunistically used the trans exclusionary nature of the conference as an excuse to push their own agenda. They’ve made their own problem clear in their correspondence with London Irish Centre–at least, the information they’ve provided online. And much of it is tedious concerns about misandry, and the Waahmbulance Service must be pretty stretched about this.

Of course, that MRAs might be driven to picket feminist events is a cause for concern. This is something that trans activists and feminist allies never did, mostly because we’d all planned to do something nice that day, something that didn’t involve sitting indoors listening to bigotry (last year, I sat in the sun and ate ice lollies and read a good book). We shouldn’t not object to MRAs showing up and picketing a feminist event just because this particular feminist event was direly oppressive. Now they think it works, they might just do it again, and that’s the last thing we fucking need.

From their own words, it looks like the MRAs consider trans women to be their allies for exactly the reason RadFem2013 organisers think trans women their enemies: both sides fall prey to the fictitious narrative that trans women are really men. In another life, these two bands of bigots could be friends, and were they to put their resources together they would become even more terrifying. I hope RadFem2013 giving MRAs the credit for something they didn’t do isn’t the beginning of an alliance forming.

In amid the hubbub of claims of responsibility, though, once again the work of trans activists is erased. It was trans activists, after all, who did the bulk of the dialogue with London Irish Centre, for it is trans activists who would be harmed by this conference going ahead. No platform for fascists, the activists said, and eventually, the venue listened. It was not the MRAs with all their spite and noise who won this. It is people who have been–or fear they will be–affected by the hate spouted by RadFem2013.

The narratives presented by both RadFem2013 and MRAs serve only to obfuscate the truth: that feminism is moving on from bigotry and gaining strength by the day, and the bigots are running scared as they feel their dominance slipping away from them.

Further reading:
UnCommon Sense: TERFs, MRAs and lies about trans people.

UPDATE: The booking agency have also given the MRAs credit. Read more here.

Note: Comment thread is, of course, moderated as best I can. I might have had a few slips, but I’m going to be careful right now. Stay on topic, and if you’re from either of the hate groups discussed in this post, your comment isn’t getting through, because no platform for hate. This is my space, not your personal place for airing grievances. 

Things I read this week that I found interesting

It’s weekly round-up time again. Here are the things I read this week that interested me. Please leave me more things.

Call out culture: what we can learn from ‘To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang’ (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- Take a bit of time out to read Reni’s analysis and watch both videos. I did, and I emerged a hell of a lot smarter.

The disposable academic (The Economist)-  A deep critique of the science PhD system. This article came out while I was doing my PhD, but I never read it then. I sometimes wonder if things would have changed had I read it at the time: would I have got out earlier?

Thatcher’s Funeral – From the Most Vulnerable of All (Diary of a Benefits Scrounger)- Read this. Get angry.

on the flipside. (Arched Eyebrow)- A very honest discussion of the impact of fatphobia.

Dear Kate Nash (A Glasgow Sex Worker)- A sex worker calls Kate Nash out on oppressive language. Kate Nash responds… poorly.

My Emcee Battle Against the Disney Princesses (Anya de Leon)- This amazing woman has found a creative solution to protecting her daughter from internalising Disney Princess narratives.

On “Nice” Rapists (Raised on a diet of broken biscuits)- One of those posts that I wish didn’t need to be written, but it puts the point very eloquently.

Stop posting that Dove ad: “Real beauty” campaign is not feminist (Erin Keane)- Dove are at it again, and it’s still that same old shit.

I’m Not Racist But.. Top 10 (Left at the Lights)- Just a small sampling of racist comments that Sam Ambreen has heard.

The hierarchy of oppression (fearlessknits)- Interesting discussion of sex, gender and how we can fight the good fight.

Taking a long hard look in the mirror…Or why Tefs need to think about what they fear. (itsjustahobby)- A very interesting theory on trans-exclusionary feminists.

An unfortunately Islamophobic defence of New Atheism against claims of Islamophobia (Frightful Spitefuel)- New Atheists. Eurgh. I just can’t. Luckily, Spitefuel did.

Oh ye cannae shove your Gramsci off the bus (Ally Fogg)- An analysis of calling out, with reference to Gramsci.

And finally, if you’re old enough to remember Round The Twist, and you use Twitter, you’ll love this.

A public service announcement: Rolf Harris’s arrest has not ruined your childhood

Content note: this post discusses rape and sexual abuse

The latest name attached to the Yewtree arrests is Rolf Harris. A lot of us UK-dwellers were entertained by Harris’s TV shows as children, with all the art and songs and lovely things. So it might have come to a shock that he was arrested for sexual offences since he seemed so nice, and was an integral part of our childhoods in the sort of way those TV nostalgia countdown shows dictate an integral part of our childhoods.

It hardly comes as a surprise, then, that people have been crying out that their childhoods have been ruined because their televisual idol has been arrested. While this represents, at least, a nascent sense of taking sexual offences seriously, it is still a deeply problematic thing to say.

Someone you watched on TV getting nicked for sexual offences doesn’t ruin your childhood. All of those happy memories of eating jelly and seeing if you could tell what it is yet are still intact. This was still how you passed some of your childhood, in between using jumpers for goalposts and eating Spangles and whatever else you did back in those days. Yes, it may leave a bad taste in your mouth to know that later he was arrested for something vile, but this does not mean that your childhood was in any way ruined.

If you want to know what a ruined childhood looks like, why not start with the survivors of other Yewtree suspects, or the instigator of the whole thing, Jimmy Savile? Children were raped and abused by powerful men. It happened, and will continue to happen, for as long as we allow rape culture to thrive.

To say that someone you don’t know but enjoyed watching on telly getting nicked ruined your childhood trivialises these frighteningly common occurrences which have very real consequences in destroying not just a childhood, but often a whole life. Sexual violence is not a walk in the park for anyone, and leaves emotional scars that cut deep.

The view is inextricably linked with a very common trope of rape culture: a focus placed on the perpetrator rather than on survivors. This way of looking at things has negative consequences and stands in the way of ever getting anything done (see the pervasive notion that being accused of rape is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, for example).

So no, Rolf Harris’s arrest did not ruin your childhood. To say otherwise trivialises and erases the reality of sexual violence.

Transgender: not a challenge to feminist politics–unpicking transphobic tropes

So, today an article came to my attention that is almost like a bingo card for microaggressive transphobia. Entitled Transgender: the challenge to feminist politics, it is the sort of bollocks I’d usually let my trans sisters take down, but talking to some of them on Twitter about this, there was an air of fatigue, that it was nothing new. And it’s true. It’s tedious and reads like a checklist of tropes of people being wrong about trans women. I’d honestly recommend people bothered educating themselves by reading blogs by trans women, or actually talking to fucking trans women.

I have the luxury of not being directly harmed by this article, or anything else to this effect. This is how I find the energy to fight it. However, I’ve likely missed a few things, and I’d love if my trans sisters have any resources, links or additions to make, to let me know, and I’ll signal-boost you. Also, this is a very short, point-by-point rapid response, intended to make sure that some of the worst of this is quickly dealt with. Each point is worthy of its own post, as each of these tropes come up so often.

Now on to the demolition.

There are so many battles yet to be won by feminists that we must not be distracted by internal schisms. If we can identify a shared political goal with trans women, says Rahila Gupta, we should be able to end this polarisation.

Trans women are women. There are therefore a lot of shared political goals. Any polarisation comes from some cis women being bigoted.

After decades of debating what it means to be a feminist,  who would have thought that even the category ‘woman’ would be up for discussion, and would need to be qualified with the prefix ‘born’ (i.e. born- woman)?

The correct prefix is not “born”, but “cis”. “Born” implies some sort of biologically essential characteristic.

until new technology came along to allow those who suffer from gender dysphoria to choose the body in which they feel most comfortable.

Trans people aren’t just a new invention with new technology. Trans people have always existed.

The suicide of Lucy Meadows, a teacher in the process of transitioning, in response to her persecution by the press exemplifies the wide-spread prejudice against trans people. 

Sadly, transphobia is not just limited to this very salient example.

Against this history, it becomes very difficult to have a reasoned debate about what transgender means for sex binaries, gender politics and feminism without touching a raw nerve in members of the trans community.

The use of “reasoned” and “touched a raw nerve” places trans people as “unreasonable”. This is a classic example of dogwhistle prejudice, and “the crazy trans lady” is a common trope used against trans women. Immediately after this, the author lists two examples of things that she thinks are not transphobia. Both of them are instances of transphobia. Great silencing work!

 The fact that those who claim that theirs is a liberatory new movement are adopting body shapes that have historically oppressed women is worth debating and no different to the debates we may have with the fashion industry or even amongst women.  

Just as cis women have lots of different body shapes, so, too, do trans women. Ignoring this fact is either ignorant or disingenous. I genuinely can’t work out which.

Central to feminist thinking is that gender is a social construct rather than a biological construct and that spurious arguments about the biological inferiority of women have been used to justify the existence of patriarchy. The imperative felt by transsexuals to undergo surgery and hormone therapy in order to identify as the sex to which they aspire thus undercuts a major plank of feminist politics. 

Well, maybe your feminist politics need to move on from the 1970s, then. My feminist politics accommodate trans people perfectly well.

ETA: Furthermore, surgery is not a crucial aspect of a transition: some women choose not to have hormones or surgery for their own reasons. It’s their choice, and it doesn’t make them any less women. (thanks @JessWardman for suggesting I clarify this point!)

Men who transition to women

WHAT? No. Trans women are women. Stop calling them men.

ETA: This is as good a times as any to draw attention to another false narrative around trans people, as observed by an anonymous friend of mine: there is a narrative that trans women “want to become” women rather than are women.

Men who transition to women often adopt a hyper feminine style of dress and appearance, thus yoking femininity and women very much as patriarchy does, a link that feminists have been trying hard to break. 

Not all feminists. Again, move on from the 1970s. Also, there is absolutely no critique of the role of the medical establishment in this. Doctors often force trans women to behave in a certain way in order to get treatment.

ETA: From an anonymous friend: “not all trans women are feminine by a long shot, even with the medical pressure.”

Additionally, genderqueer politics holds that the rigid imposition of gender identities is the main problem and that the binary system affects men and women equally whereas feminists like myself would see the oppression of one sex (women) by another (men) as the central issue

No. Binaries are unhelpful.

It is also interesting that the most noise in public debates is made by men transitioning to women, another example of male privilege

JESUS CHRIST STOP WITH CALLING TRANS WOMEN MEN. Trans women do not have male privilege. They are women, with the intersecting oppression of being trans and thus facing this sort of shit.

According to a study carried out in 2009, of a community of 10,000 people in the UK, 6000 have transitioned, 80 per cent of whom are now trans women (MTF).

I don’t know what she means by “transitioned” here, but I think I can guess that she means surgery (more on this later)

Whilst it may be understandable that women might wish to live as men in order to escape their ‘inferior’ sex, it is harder to understand why such large numbers of men should opt to transition to women and thereby, give up their male privilege, plus face the additional discrimination of adopting transgender identities. Nevertheless, the fact that more men than women have transitioned is itself an indication that patriarchy gives men a disproportionate power and freedom to choose how they live.

Perhaps because they’re not doing it to swap privileges around? And if she had ever even bothered to speak to a trans woman, maybe, just maybe, she would know that trans women are not men, and that it’s hardly a “disproportionate power and freedom”, being trans.

ETA: From my anonymous friend: “one reason for trans women being more visible than trans men despite evidence suggesting numbers are roughly equally is that trans men are not questioned as much by the media (because of male privilege – being a man ‘makes sense’)

Jenny Roberts, a transsexual, explains why their response to rejection by born-women is so noisy:  the transsexual ‘often responds in the only way she knows – with male aggression and anger… the inescapable fact is that we’ve grown up with gender privilege. We’ve been taught to compete, take power and demand what should be ours.’

Wow, a cherry-picked quote. One. The only indication that the author has bothered seeking out anything, and it’s something which backs up her beliefs entirely.

It is this history of lived experience as a different sex and gender that makes many women, particularly radical feminists and lesbians, wary of transsexuals. 

Well, they should stop being wrong, then. I know I grew out of it.

How do we balance our equalities duties with the need for a women-only space especially when employing transsexuals who have not finished the transition? The Sex Discrimination Act takes this into account partly when it stipulates that discrimination may be lawful when a particular job requires a worker of a particular sex and the transgender applicant is still in the process of transitioning… But the paradox is that the possession of male genitalia would make their presence in women only environments much more problematic

They’re still women. Having a penis doesn’t make someone not a woman. Having a vagina doesn’t make someone a woman.

ETA: My anonymous friend pointed out I didn’t say more on surgery, and I was going to say it here: it’s patently obvious that what the author means by transition is surgery. As @JessWardman pointed out, some trans people opt not to have surgery, and that’s OK.

This brings us back to the knotty issue of biology versus gender – if conditioning is what makes men violent, then surely unhappiness with ‘maleness’ indicates that that the conditioning is unravelling and therefore makes a trans woman no more or less likely than born- women to be prone to violence.

Note the distinct lack of any citatations or statistics, because there are none, because this belief is rooted in, once again, the very unpleasant notion that trans women are somehow male.

When many of the younger feminists are actively bringing supportive men into the movement and into the conference halls and debating the roles they should adopt

How is the presence of men pertinent to trans women? Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

At the end of the day, it is about a shared politics, rather than identities per se, of working with trans people who share and support feminist goals.

Which a lot of trans women do because they’re women.

The respect shown by a trans woman like Jenny Roberts who says, ‘We should accept that there are groups where our presence is not appropriate and groups where it is. And we should stop acting like we still have the privileges that we grew up with’ would go a long way to end this polarisation.

Yes. That is literally the conclusion of the article. Shut up, trans women, and step in line. A classic cis silencing tactic, which I’m all too aware of because I once used it myself.

Anyway. Fuck that shit. I’m off for a fag. What an awful article.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

I have read some things, some of which were not even written this week. I found them interesting. Maybe you will too. Please link me to other things I may find interesting.

A feminist guide to celebrating Thatcher’s demise (Angry Women of Liverpool)- How to be happy Thatcher’s dead without being oppressive to women. I think I am just a little bit in love with this post.

Obituary (Pere Lebrun)- This is such a beautiful piece of writing.

Obituary for Margaret Hilda Thatcher (National Union of Mineworkers)- I don’t think these miners thought much of Thatcher…

Naomi Beecroft at the NUS VP hustings (video)- In which the amazing Naomi calls out the SWP for rape apologism, while looking fabulous. She’s getting a lot of shit for this, and she shouldn’t. It needed saying, and she said it so eloquently.

The Revolution Will Not Be Polite: The Issue of Nice versus Good (Social Justice League)- Oh my goodness, a thousand times this.

Depression and Suicide Amongst Radicals and Anarchists (Nihilo Zero)- An important piece on mental health in radical circles. Libcom are currently working on a producing a resource about this issue, and are seeking submissions.

Femen’s obsession with nudity feeds a racist colonial feminism (Chitra Nagarajan)- On how Femen should take a lead from the women they are trying to save, rather than trying to lead.

Legal authorities edge toward sanctioning trans murder (Jane Fae)- Jane writes on the horrifying implications of some recent legal rulings.

Your Story Already Sucks: An Open Letter To Tourist Journalists (Charlotte Shane)- A blistering riposte to mainstream journalists reporting on sex work.

The Bad Wolfed Clara Theory (Wholligan)- Just about the most compelling theory about the current series of Doctor Who I’ve seen.

East African women on FGM: “Sometimes they just call you lazy.” (Okwonga)- Interviews with women who have undergone FGM, talking about their attitude to the procedure in their own words.

Finding my voice (itsjustahobby)- Heartbreaking account of rape from a sex worker trying to reclaim narratives.

Five Years, My Story (musings of a rose)- Another heartbreaking story, this time of what rape does to you.

Death of a revolutionary (Susan Faludi)- A long piece about the life and death of Shulamith Firestone.

And finally, your computer is sad.