Podcasts

PODCAST: Miranda Yardley on being a gender critical transwoman

The debate around transgenderism and feminism feels as though it’s getting ever-more heated. Journalist, Michelle Goldberg, wrote about the rift recently for The New Yorker, explaining the crux of the argument as such: Trans women say that they are women because they feel female—that, as some put it, they have women’s brains in men’s bodies. Radical feminists reject the notion of a “female brain.” They believe that if women think and act differently from men it’s because society forces them to, requiring them to be sexually attractive, nurturing, and deferential. On August 11th BBC’s Newsnight had planned a discussion on retired boxing promoter Frank Maloney’s announcement that she is in the process of transitioning and is now known as Kellie Maloney, and more generally, what it means to “identify...
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Defending the ‘Terf': Gender as Political

The philosophy and race class, for which I was serving as a teaching assistant, had just discussed the metaphysics of race.  One day I stood in front of my students and asked: “My mom is Mexican. My dad is white. I’m seen and treated as a white person. So what’s my race?”  First, a short silence. Then, the response I expected: “Whatever you want to identify yourself as.” “But race is a social construction,” I insisted.  “And I’m seen and treated by others as a white person. So doesn’t that make me white?” Depending upon your definition of race, I might be Latina, biracial, or — as I was trying to explain in class — white.  I’m seen as a white person; I’ve been raised as a white person...
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Set to Explode: On masculinity and death

My best friend died at twenty years old. He, like so many males, was set to explode; a bomb of manhood with a wick as short as impulse. He was taught only one game: breaking boundaries. In the end he broke his own. Game over. Masculinity is killing us all. In men’s endless drive to prove themselves as real men, they must break boundaries as a matter of course. “Don’t do that” is simply an invitation. Each inhibition crossed is a further affirmation of manhood. There’s a reason why a certain major firearm company’s main marketing ploy revolves around convincing men that, without these guns, their “manhood cards” will be revoked. Like bombs, men don’t simply hurt themselves when they explode, but also whoever happens to be nearby. That’s...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Is there such a thing as a ‘male brain’ or a ‘female brain?’

Feminists have long argued against the notion of innate ‘female’ or ‘male’ characteristics, pointing out the ways in which socialization impacts and shapes our behaviour. Yet a recent study out of Penn Medicine claims that there are, in fact, ‘hardwired difference between male and female brains’ that explain why men are supposedly better at certain tasks than women and vice versa. In this episode, I speak with Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist at Barnard College and the author of Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, about the study. Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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On ‘gendered violence’ and remembering the Montreal Massacre

Today is December 6. Twenty four years ago, 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal by a man who shouted: “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” Today is also the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Though some have been commenting on “gendered violence” or “gender-based violence” today, I prefer a more specific description. This is about male violence against women. Indeed, this violence is gendered, but to talk about “gendered violence” is too vague. What this term signifies is fear — and that fear exists with good reason. Feminists are targeted because they name the problem. We target patriarchy, male dominance, female oppression, and male violence against women. Men are threatened by feminism because we refuse to mask the...
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Why talking about ‘healthy masculinity’ is like talking about ‘healthy cancer’

I understand—I really do—why a lot of people raised to be a man are seeking a gendered sense of self that is separate and distinct from all that has been called out lately as toxic masculinity. These days a penised person* would have to be really clueless not to notice all the manhood-proving behaviors that have been critiqued as hazardous to well-being (one’s own and others’). However much that penised person accepts the mounting critique of standard-issue masculinity, he might reasonably be wondering what manhood-authenticating behaviors are exempt from it: What are the ways to “act like a man” that definitively keep one from being confused with “men behaving badly”? Or, put more personally: What exactly does one do nowadays to inhabit a male-positive gendered identity that feels—and is—worthy...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Deep Green Resistance under attack

Deep Green Resistance (DGR) can loosely be described as a radical environmental movement that believes civilization, particularly industrial civilization, is unsustainable and must be dismantled in order to secure a livable future for the planet. But DGR is also a movement that is firmly rooted in radical feminism. The group, and particular members of DGR, have recently come under attack because of their feminist critique of gender. A campaign was mounted by a few individuals to cancel the speaking engagements of Rachel Ivey as a result of a  presentation on gender and patriarchy, which you can watch here: Members have been labelled as bigots and subjected to death and rape threats. At a conference last month in Portland, DGR members were confronted aggressively by a number of other conference...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Looking at feminism and trans issues from a philosophical perspective

Early in January, an already heated debate about transgenderism and feminism intensified due, in part, toan article written by Suzanne Moore called “Seeing Red: The Power of Female Anger.”  She remarked, in the article,  that women were meant to aspire to extremely unrealistic expectations in terms of what their bodies ‘should’ look like, saying: “We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.”  As a result of her comment, she was not just criticized, but viciously attacked online, to the point where she closed her Twitter account. Moore responded, saying: This whole shebang raised a few issues for me that won’t go away. The wrath of the transgender community has been insane....
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Facts and science prove to be useful after all!

Generally when questioned about how sexism could POSSIBLY EXIST in this MODERN DAY AND AGE when ladies are allowed to wear PANTS and have abortions (MAYBE IF YOU’RE LUCKY) and HAVE SEX ALL THE TIME, LIKE, WHENEVER, I respond by saying that the thing about sexism today is that much of it is less overt than it perhaps once was. Less measurable. Things like objectification, the male gaze, compulsory sexuality, and silencing are not necessarily the kinds of things you can prove via statistics or math (also, my feelings towards math generally exist somewhere along the “I’m confused” to “fuck math” spectrum. I have a calculator in my phone that I use to figure out important things like how much to tip my hairdresser. AMIRIGHT LADIES?). But lo! A...
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The tyranny of the emoticon (or, be more like a lady, lady.)

How many times, in your life as a girl/lady, have you been told to “Smile!”, to be nice, to be polite, to stay positive!, or to generally be more fucking pleasant? If you’re of the female species, probably a lot. It’s the ladies who are constantly told, from the time they are very young, by strange men on the street that they “would look prettier” if they would just “Smile!” Our parents and teachers tell us to be nice to others and, as we get older, self-help books and new age a-holes tell us not to be so negative, lest we give ourselves breast cancer or fail to attract a husband. How many times have you read dating advice that says that men prefer women who are “happy and...
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Because boys still matter more: The popularity of anti-bullying campaigns and the erasure of sexism

The relatively recent development of the anti-bullying campaign has been almost universally accepted as something that is unquestionably “good”. These campaigns are politically correct, they are focused on kids (a largely unhateable group), and they are relatively easy to get behind for most people, (with the exception of some religious groups) particularly those who consider themselves to be open-minded, liberal folks. Support for these campaigns has surged in popularity with celebrity endorsements and the almost immediate, enthusiastic incorporation of anti-bullying discourse into elementary and high schools. Projects like Dan Savage’s It Gets Better, aimed at inspiring hope in alienated and harassed LGBT kids, are hard to criticize, particularly in light of stats around the increased likelyhood of suicide attempts by these youth. But while anti-bullying campaigns grow ever more...
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Marriage, monogamy and compulsory sex(uality).

I tend not to involve myself in debates around marriage, commitment and monogamy. Moral arguments don’t do it for me and I have little to no interest in arguing for monogamy (if you are into it, don’t care, if not, also don’t care). Since marriage is, as far as I’m concerned, a useless remnant of the days when women were chattle, which people continue to cling tightly to because they desire to project meaning onto their intimate relationships which could be just as meaningful without marriage if we had not decided, as a culture, that marriage made a relationship more valid and more important than any other relationship, I’m not all that interested in conversations about what we should or should not do within marriage. BUT I am interested...
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My performance of femininity and why it isn't all about me.

Look. I’m going to let you in on a little secret unbeknownst to anyone but my closest 455 Facebook friends, my real-life friends (somewhere between 4-70, I’d guess), every single person who sees me out and about, and now, everyone who reads this.  So DON’T tell anyone. …I wear eyeliner. Almost every day. Why? While the reasons may be more complicated than: ‘Because I feel like it’, the simple answers remain squarely located in boring-town: I feel more presentable when wearing eyeliner. I’ve become addicted to the ritual that is ‘putting on my face’.  I’m very pale and I look sickly without blush. Yeah. Excuses, excuses. The real-life story is that I have learned both a) that my appearance matters, and b) how to perform femininity. Though I am...
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