Why my initial thoughts on the Obama gay marriage announcement are wrong

Yesterday, Barack Obama declared that his position on gay marriage has evolved, and where once he thought civil unions were sufficient, he’s decided, rightly, that they are not, and has made possibly the clearest and most supportive statement on the matter that any president has ever made.

Critics have contended that civil unions are another way of saying “separate but equal”, only, you know, without the “equal” part. It is effectively a form of soft bigotry to say that one type of life partner contract is allowed to be called “marriage” while this other type is not, for reasons completely unfathomable to anyone but the theists who draw the line in the sand at their personal definition of marriage — a relationship sanctified by a member of their clergy and thus accepted in the eyes of God. There are, of course, legal ramifications as well, but people seem to care more about their precious words.

And while many individual members of many religious organizations would have no problem with declaring that their God has no problem with gays getting married, others obviously find it some sort abomination, owing to their particular readings of the religious traditions they hold dear. The parallels with the religiously-motivated opposition to interracial marriage are obvious and palpable. With good reason — the situations are practically identical.

Despite this good news, my initial reaction — and I suspect many of your initial reactions as well — were deeply cynical.

I was initially irritated that this statement was made very shortly before Obama’s reelection campaign began. It felt like an opening gambit, a sop to pander to the LGBTQ community who, by and large, has felt abandoned by Obama since he took office. I was mad that it hadn’t happened sooner, that it COULD have happened sooner but for Obama’s own position on the matter. I was worried that, with so much riding on keeping outright slavering bigotry out of the Oval Office, that Obama could have done more good by announcing this a year or more ago, having the conversation in advance, making the political climate toxic to bigoted Republicans for this election, and could have done a significant amount more good in the name of equality than he’s managed so far.

But Obama was instrumental in the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era law that ostensibly opened the door for non-heteronormative folks to join the military with impunity — so long as, you know, they hid the fact that they were anything but heterosexual. With Republicans controlling the House for the past two years, and controlling many states’ legislatures, and therefore most of the United States’ political agenda, gays have seen nothing but one ridiculous law after another in one state after another to abridge their rights.

Of course, they’re not alone, as women have had their reproductive rights under siege for the entire duration, but much as misery loves company, people also generally love having boots removed from their throats. Go figure. So the sitting President is, from his bully pulpit, bullying the bullies who have joyfully maintained their boot-on-neck stance. And the pushback against this anti-bully movement is ridiculously transparent, with the anti-gay rhetoric claiming by and large that the Christians and bigots are themselves being bullied, by having their right-to-bully removed.

Sure, Obama has had three and a half years in office to take this potentially controversial stand, and we’re all disappointed that it could have been sooner. But given that only a slim majority of the electorate supports gay marriage, and given the real goals of the Republicans for the past several decades have been geared toward social conservatism (e.g., every regressive policy you can find a Bible verse to support), rather than any sort of fiscal prudence or any other pretension at good governance, it seems the “obvious political calculus” aimed at shoring up numbers in an otherwise demotivated demographic is not so obvious after all. The Republicans still get an unduly large amount of support from the general electorate despite their obvious bigotry, which they wear on their sleeves. So this is actually a really bad, really risky time for Obama to be making this sort of stand, even if it will motivate that otherwise demotivated demographic.

This motion could backfire, drastically. That makes the motion seem all the more genuine. Either that, or Obama’s signalling that he’s going all in this time around, and he’s betting with the unprecedented upswing in support for gay marriage. He could have punted on this til after the election, but he didn’t. And that’s important.

I do wish that Obama had realized much sooner all the parallels between the anti-gay bigots and the anti-miscegenation bigots of yesteryear. I suspect he’s figuring it out now, and if this enlightenment comes because his political handlers are nudging him in that direction, so be it. Better late than never, given the alternative has openly campaigned on maintaining straight male privilege.

I have decided that for me, this is not the time to be cynical. The stakes are always high in any election for the President of the United States, but in this case, my cynicism right now could actually help to undo this positive momentum for human rights, and given how slow we as a race tend to be in fixing injustice, I’d rather not lose that momentum and have to continue having this sort of conversation in a decade. Now’s the time. We’re at the tipping point. Keep pushing.

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Why my initial thoughts on the Obama gay marriage announcement are wrong
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202 thoughts on “Why my initial thoughts on the Obama gay marriage announcement are wrong

  1. 151

    First, you’re not making an observation, but raising a false accusation.

    Second, ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’, and ‘gay marriage’, are all correct, for the reasons I’ve been explaining.

    In hindsight, what I should have done is go further from the beginning, and generally counter the basic problems, like the claim that using ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as synonyms was a problem, and further making false accusations based on misconstructions of the words of people who are using the words in a standard sense, rather than focus only on the fact that using ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ in their usual sense wasn’t a problem, and in particular didn’t imply that ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are the same in all contexts.

    You may insult me all you like, of course, but that does not affect any of the arguments in my reply to you.

  2. 153

    [meta]

    Angra:

    First, you’re not making an observation, but raising a false accusation.

    False dichotomy.

    Second, ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’, and ‘gay marriage’, are all correct, for the reasons I’ve been explaining.

    No. You keep asserting this, without responding to the explaining that has been provided.

    In hindsight, what I should have done is go further from the beginning [blah]

    In my hindsight (and I’ve just re-read the thread), what you should’ve done is irrelevant, but what you’re doing is futilely doubling-down.

    You may insult me all you like, of course, but that does not affect any of the arguments in my reply to you.

    True, if a straw dummy.

    (The insults, such as they are, are others’ opinions of you. Which I share)

  3. 154

    No. You keep asserting this, without responding to the explaining that has been provided.

    That is not true. I have replied to claims and arguments given.

    (The insults, such as they are, are others’ opinions of you. Which I share)

    Yes, it’s their false opinion of me. And now I see your false opinion as well. Given that you reached that ‘conclusion’ based on this thread, you too are committed to their political correctness ideology.

    Whatever. The matter (arguments, etc.) is on record.

  4. 155

    Your obstinacy might be useful in some instances, but not when you are plainly wrong and refusing to listen to anything except the sound of your own voice.

    Keep fucking that chicken, man.

  5. 156

    I’ve debated Christians too, so it’s not as if facing a number of opponents committed to their beliefs is new to me. But it does get tiring.

  6. 157

    Good grief, Angra Mainyu; are you completely incapable of reading for comprehension?

    Cissexism doesn’t have to be intended by the user of cissexist terms for the term to be cissexist. The term doesn’t even have to be a slur or insulting. For example, the phrase ‘The Fairer Sex’ is sexist even if it is meant as a compliment. Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group. It implies nothing about hatred or even dislike; just incomprehension of a different experience.

    “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people.

    Remember, not so many years ago, the resistance to using ‘he or she’ instead of just ‘he’ in writing and conversation? There were plenty of people asserting that using the male pronoun didn’t erase female experience or existence and that it should be allowed to continue because the majority had always used it.

    Or remember the outcry, from people who would have vehemently denied being racists, when racial diversity started appearing in school book illustrations, saying that it was perfectly OK for children of colour to learn to read from books that showed nothing but white faces?

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    It isn’t. You were politely told that, and given copious reasons for why the conflation of sex and gender is problematic, and instead of doing the decent thing and saying “Oops; I’m sorry! I didn’t realise that. I shan’t do it again.” and gaining respect, you have typed page after page about how you are only doing what the majority does and how people are mean for saying that you are wrong.

    You have been given plenty of chances to salvage some respect and admit that going on the defence was a daft thing to do when your initial error was pointed out to you; yet you have continued to repeat that your right to use your definition counts above the rights of marginalised people to feel a little safer, a little more included.

    How disappointing.

  7. 158

    Yes, how dare there be people whose existence and experiences contradict the cis-normative certainty of Angra’s dictionary-justified conflation of sex and gender — as though they were different things!!! After all, Angra can never be wrong, he has (fallacious) reason and logic on his side!!!!

    Here’s a big hint for you chum: they are different; you used the wrong term. The term might be correct if you could only exclude all those pesky gender variant people from all consideration. People like me and Tigger. Don’t do that.

    Somehow I doubt the hint will be taken. At this rate I imagine Angra will reach China at some stage, what with this continued digging of holes.

  8. 159

    Xanthe, hey!

    Transsexuals (or even gender-dysmorphic) people don’t count.

    Certainly not asexual people!

    (And ‘often’ means ‘never’)

    </snark>

  9. 160

    @Tigger_the_Wing
    No, you’re the one failing at reader comprehension.

    An expression is not sexist, or cissexist, etc., just because some group interpret it to mean something different from what it means, and then claim (by the new interpretation) that they’re being targeted.

    Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group. It implies nothing about hatred or even dislike; just incomprehension of a different experience.

    First, no, you’re redefining the words. See, for instance, racism.
    Second, regardless, let’s go by your claim about the meaning, namely that it means “denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group”.
    Nothing I said can be reasonably interpreted as denying the existence of transgender people, or that they do not have the experiences that they have.

    “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people.

    And again, I did not say anything that would deny equality to anyone.

    Remember, not so many years ago, the resistance to using ‘he or she’ instead of just ‘he’ in writing and conversation? There were plenty of people asserting that using the male pronoun didn’t erase female experience or existence and that it should be allowed to continue because the majority had always used it.

    While those using ‘he’ were not denying the existence of women, or that they had the experiences they had (so that would not be sexist by your definition), those who say ‘he’ in some cases may be making an unwarranted assumption that the person in question is male, and those who say ‘she’ may be making an unwarranted assumption that the person in question is female. Those are matters to be decided on a case by case basis, rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is being sexist (even in a standard sense of the word ‘sexist’).
    I think a more adequate analogy would be the word ‘mankind’, which does not imply that women do not exist.
    I probably would say ‘our species’ or ‘our civilization’ (depending on what I’m trying to say) rather than either ‘humankind’ or ‘mankind’. If I were to use one, I suppose I would be more likely to use ‘humankind’ just to avoid attacks, but I would find it offensive if someone accused someone else of being ‘sexist’ merely because they use the word ‘mankind’ (which, by the way, was coined when ‘man’ was gender neutral, but beside that, it simply does not mean that there are no women, or that women do not have the experiences that they have).
    Again, the meaning of the words is determined by usage.
    If you interpreted that someone who says ‘mankind’ is (just because of that), denying either that women exists, or that they have any of the experiences they have, you would be the one making a baseless accusation based on a false belief.

    Or remember the outcry, from people who would have vehemently denied being racists, when racial diversity started appearing in school book illustrations, saying that it was perfectly OK for children of colour to learn to read from books that showed nothing but white faces?

    That’s another matter. There is no good reason to misrepresent a social reality by means of showing only White faces (on the other hand, if you’re depicting a social group which only includes White faces for whatever reason, then adding non-White faces would simply be inaccurate, but that’s not the case here).

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    No, you are unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.
    If someone is unaware of the existence of transgender people, that’s a good reason for educating them, but not a good reason for blaming people for using words to mean what they mean.

    You have been given plenty of chances to salvage some respect and admit that going on the defence was a daft thing to do when your initial error was pointed out to you; yet you have continued to repeat that your right to use your definition counts above the rights of marginalised people to feel a little safer, a little more included.
    How disappointing.

    No, I’m not using my definition. I’m using standard English words that aren’t slang. There is nothing wrong if you prefer a different definition, and you use it, or ask others to use it because you like it better. But accusing others of any “ism” for that is not an acceptable accusation. It’s the political correctness ideology.
    But on the other hand, it may well be that that means that no one here will respect me. If so, well so be it. While I’m willing to even change language to prevent attacks from political correctness ideologues, I’m not willing to go as far as insincerely apologize and say I agree with you, and I cannot sincerely do any of that.

  10. 161

    It’s not a case of ‘politically correct ideology’ — it’s a matter of you being unwilling to admit you used the wrong term, refusing to admit it was the wrong term when you were called on it, and then instead of apologising for your mistake, doubling and redoubling the offense by attempting beyond the point of stupidity to prove you were right all the time.

    And now you’re telling transgender people to suck eggs. How low do you want to go, Angra?

  11. 162

    China, Xanthe, obviously.

    Angra Mainyu, you really don’t get it, do you? Refusing to use the preferred terms is denying equality to less fortunate groups than the dominant one.

    It vanishes us from literature, law, medicine, history, current affairs, politics… you get the idea. Or not.

    Perhaps if you were to take your fingers out of your ears and stop yelling “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” you might learn something.

  12. 163

    Oh, and I cannot believe that you think that warning someone that they have used something wrongly is accusing them of an ‘-ism’, and that that is the worst thing that anyone can do to you. You lucky sod if that really is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.

    Privilege by the shit-ton.

  13. 164

    Angra responding to Tigger_the_Wing:

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    No, you are unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.

    Tigger claimed that “most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”, to which you retorted that Tigger is “unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.”

    That is an epitome of the non-sequitur.

    (Care to address the actual contention (“most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”) rather than your straw dummy (“the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist”)?

    [meta]

    This is FtB.

    (Your verbosity does not obfuscate; it is futile)

  14. 165

    [meta]

    PS I (unfortunately) feel that I should make this extremely clear for Angra: To deny the experience of X is not tantamount to denying the existence of X.

  15. 167

    @John Morales

    [meta]
    PS I (unfortunately) feel that I should make this extremely clear for Angra: To deny the experience of X is not tantamount to denying the existence of X.

    That’s obvious.
    The definition I was replying to was:

    Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group.

    As you can see, and as you could have seen from the beginning, the definition involved both denying the existence of a group, or their experiences, not only their experiences.

    Perhaps, you wouldn’t feel like clarifying that if you had read the exchange more carefully.

  16. 168

    Angra:

    Whatever. The matter (arguments, etc.) is on record.

    So it is.

    Two claims you’ve made:

    1. as I see it, Obama actually implied that law-makers and/or voters have a moral obligation to refrain from passing or maintaining legislation that bans same-gender marriage, which involves an obligation to pass legislation allowing same-gender marriage where it’s banned.

    2. The terms ‘same-sex marriage’, ‘gay marriage’ and ‘same-gender marriage’ are often used to talk about a number of similar arrangements.

    Often, eh?

    Here, let me quote from DOMA:

    Section 2. Powers reserved to the states
    No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
    Section 3. Definition of marriage
    In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    (I note the use of ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’.

    Your turn to adduce something of relevance)

  17. 169

    @John Morales

    Tigger claimed that “most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”, to which you retorted that Tigger is “unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.”
    That is an epitome of the non-sequitur.

    Actually, Tigger said that “it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness”.
    But if I misread, okay then, my mistake. In that case, Tigger is unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make transgender people vanish from public consciousness.

  18. 170

    By all means, folks, continue, I won’t shut this conversation down for being a derail by any stretch of the imagination. This stuff needs to be hashed out. Wish I had time to put together a comprehensive post on the argument, but suffice it to say that you can perpetuate privilege by your word choices without intending to do so. Actions have consequences, and so do words, often well beyond their intended scope.

  19. 171

    I tried to post, but my post did not get through.

    I’ll try again:

    There is only one of me, and I do not have time to deal with this barrage, so I guess they’ll drive me out by sheer numbers.

    Still, and for non-ideologues, apart from the dictionary, there are other examples of usage of ‘same-gender’ and ‘gender’ one can find, and which ideologues might just consider cissexist or whatever, if their ideology tells them so.

    But I’ll post a few as an example of the varied usages of ‘gender’, by people who are using standard English terms, not denying the existence of transgender people, or any of their experiences (of course, this are merely examples; readers who are interested can find more on their own; it’s not as if it takes more than a search engine).

    For instance, from the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
    Source: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm

    For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the
    two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does
    not indicate any meaning different from the above.

    Or from the California Health and Safety Code:
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=103001-104000&file=103446-103449

    103446. It is the intent of the Legislature that this article
    provide a remedy for the correction of birth certificates that
    contain gender errors made by the birthing hospital or local
    registrar when completing the original birth certificate.

    Or just a random post.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080403202834AAZXZ9E

    Petition court for a legal gender change based on letters from surgeon.

  20. 173

    … and not only their existence, but their experience.

    Perhaps if you had read all the exchanges more carefully, we wouldn’t still be trying to pound into your highly reisistant skull the idea that words matter.

    Please stop cherry-picking bits of comments to argue against whilst ignoring the substance.

    Summary:

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

  21. 174

    WilloNyx

    Ok imagine we are way back some years ago when it was common to use the term policeman. Not so long ago I know. Well even after women were allowed to become police officers the common terminology of policeman persisted.

    In the case of ‘policeman’, if the term actually means ‘a male police officer’, that would be a misuse.
    Else, if there is a risk that it will cause confusion, sure, that should be avoided. It has to be assessed on a case by case basis.

    Clearly, in this case, the accusations against me are out of place. Well, not clearly to ideologues.

  22. 175

    And why go to all the trouble of finding other people, other sites, where exclusionary language is used, as if that makes it all OK for you to use it too? It doesn’t, you know.

    It just means that there are other places that are trying to erase us.

    How does that make it OK? As I said before, “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people. Normal ≠ right, or the best way of doing things.

  23. 177

    Wow! Someone commenting on LGBT issues fails to pick up nuance and subtlety of the issues, stupidly conflates distinct concepts that are in fact different. And in fact, goes on to show why it’s everyone else’s fault that they are wrong. Why, I don’t think I’ve seen that sort of thing happen before.

    Oh, sorry, that’s just me being forgetful. This sort of thing happens all the fucking time.

    Keep on digging.

  24. 178

    Hasn’t he reached China yet?

    (Oh, and WilloNyx: good call on the policeman analogy –

    “I am pretty sure that you will look at all the ways the analogy isn’t an exact fit (all analogies are not exact fits) rather than look at how it apples to your continued cissexism.”

    Perfect. =^_^=

  25. 179

    Tigger_the_Wing

    Perhaps if you had read all the exchanges more carefully, we wouldn’t still be trying to pound into your highly reisistant skull the idea that words matter.
    Please stop cherry-picking bits of comments to argue against whilst ignoring the substance.

    I’m not doing that at all, and perhaps you would have realized that if your ideology didn’t block you from doing that.
    That said, there is only one of me, so I reply the best I can, but I don’t have time to defend myself against this barrage. I’ve already made most of the points I wanted to make, and the attacks have only intensified, so I’ll have to quit soon.

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    First, no one is ‘excluding’ anything. You disagree with my points about the meaning of the words, and I can’t convince you, but it’s not as if there is any implication in ‘same gender marriage’, as usually used, that would somehow be a problem.

    Second, ‘gay marriage’ would also have the same problems, because gay people can get married as long as they’re a man and a woman. Now, someone can say that “gay marriage” is not a wrong description, that it’s understood in context, etc., and all of that is true, but the same applies to same-gender marriage..

    Third, your standard for terms would seem to even make the ‘gay’ a problem as well.
    Because, you see, the term ‘gay’ denotes is used either to denote males, or generically, whereas ‘lesbian’ is used only for women. It’s the same as with many other terms. But there is nothing wrong with ‘gay’. Again, in the case of such terms, the matter has to be decided on a case by case basis, not by a general brush that applies to all of them.

  26. 180

    Sorry Angra, the examples you have cited demonstrate the unfortunate characteristic known as ‘weasel words’ where gender is used as a proxy for sex, because the use of the latter word has been deemed unpalatable – which, mark this, is an inherently cis-sexist attitude.

    If you want to give examples of language that prove your case, ones that embody the inherent marginalisation of transgender people by ignoring their very existence will not do.

  27. 181

    Help! Help! He’s being [email protected]@[email protected]#!$!

    First, no, I’m just being treated unfairly, insulted, etc., but a number of people.
    Second, I’m not asking for help. If no one has stepped in to help me yet, it seems to me chances are no one will, and asking would probably be pointless anyway. Maybe all readers agree with my attackers, anyway. Based on the replies, I’d say probably at least nearly all do. Maybe if one or two agree with me, they just don’t have time, or for a different reason will not post.

  28. 182

    Summary:

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

    Because it requires just a little bit of extra effort and that’s just sooooooo haaardddddd!! And besides, it’s no skin off the back’s of anyone who isn’t being excluded by “normal” language anyway, so why the fuck should they care? The people who are being excluded by “normal” language should just buck up and grow a thicker skin instead of expecting those who aren’t excluded to make the extra little effort to be inclusive as apparently, empathy and compassion just require far too much work.

  29. 183

    @Xanthe

    Sorry Angra, the examples you have cited demonstrate the unfortunate characteristic known as ‘weasel words’ where gender is used as a proxy for sex, because the use of the latter word has been deemed unpalatable – which, mark this, is an inherently cis-sexist attitude.
    If you want to give examples of language that prove your case, ones that embody the inherent marginalisation of transgender people by ignoring their very existence will not do.

    My point is that there is nothing cis-sexist about those examples, and that accusing all those people of cis-sexism for the use of those words would be an instance of accusing people of behaving in an immoral manne when they’re not doing so, which is unacceptable.
    While I do not expect ideologues to realize that, if there are readers who aren’t ideologues as well, the examples are for them: those are usual usages of the terms.

    So, you say that the examples “will not do”. Well, they “will not do” in terms of persuading my opponents. But I’m not trying to persuade my opponents. Given the evidence so far, I’ve concluded that that’s simply never going to happen. So, that my opponents will not be persuaded is beside the point.

    The examples are for readers, in case at least some of them are not ideologically committed to condemning anyone who uses their taboo words.

  30. 184

    Something I learned a long time ago: it’s only a “barrage” if you feel the need to defend yourself on everyone else’s schedule. I assure you they will continue to tell you you’re wrong even if you go have a life outside of arguing on the internet.

    I mean, that last bit is mostly because you are, in fact, wrong and are using many fallacious arguments to defend what could easily have been rectified with a simple “sorry, didn’t realize the terminology” at the outset.

  31. 185

    Things I learned from Angra:

    Sex and gender are the same, therefore transgender people don’t exist! They are figments of his imagination!

    Cis-sexism isn’t cis-sexism, because: ideology.

    Keep on fucking the chicken, Angra, I think you’re nearly there.

  32. 186

    Okay, I’ve spent many hours on this, and I just don’t have time to continue with this.
    Nor do I see a point. The character assassination will just continue, with more people joining in perhaps.

    Anyone interested in the usage of ‘same gender’ and ‘gender’, etc., can just use Google, dictionaries, etc., and reach their own conclusions.

    And anyone interested in the positions of each of the parties can just read the thread, at least the thread so far in my case.

    So, I’m leaving.

  33. 187

    I’m just being treated unfairly, insulted, etc., but a number of people.

    Demonstrating the cis-sexism and privilege in your comments and calling you out on them =/= being treated unfairly or being insulted. The criticisms of your arguments have been extremely fair, you’re just refusing to hear it because apparently it’s just that much more important to you to continuing using cis-sexist language, rather than considering that just maybe you’ve been demonstrating cis-sexism, however unintentionally, and that maybe, just maybe, you might have been…. wrong (GASP!). Your arguments deserve to be insulted because they rest on faulty premises – if you continue to hold them despite having been shown why they’re in error, well, that level of obstinate stupidity is insulting to the rest of us.

  34. 188

    Did you look at the graphic I linked, which explains in simple terms how much variation there is in gender/sex/attraction/presentation?

    Even that graphic is flawed, as it doesn’t take into account other variations such as asexual people, but it is better than this duelling-with-dictionary stuff that is going on here.

    It’s obvious that you don’t get it. That’s OK; until recently there were many, many things that I didn’t get and there are a lot of things I still don’t get and never will. The difference between us is that I now recognise that when my inevitable lack of experience in any area gets in the way of my understanding something, I should sit quietly and read what the people who actually live the experiences have to say about it. And learn how I can, if not actually help things get better, at least not contribute to them staying the same or getting worse.

    It wasn’t your intitial mistake that got everyone in a tizzy; it was that you denied that it was a mistake, looked for evidence that supported your position and ignored all the evidence to the contrary.

    Ignorance is forgivable; it can be cured with education. Wilful ignorance, on the other hand…

  35. 189

    @Angra
    This is fucking ridiculous.

    Ok imagine we are way back some years ago when it was common to use the term policeman. Not so long ago I know. Well even after women were allowed to become police officers the common terminology of policeman persisted. Then we has conversations that happened something like this:

    Gene writes a long piece about police officers as a whole and instead of calling them police officers he uses the term policemen throughout. Francis noticed that the terminology ignores the fact that women are police officers and decides to politely say “hey Gene your terminology is sexist because it erases that women do police work too. Gene then gets angry that someone called him sexist and rebuts with “I am not sexist. Look here where all these other places use the term policeman. It is just the term. If I didn’t mean it negatively then it isn’t sexist.” Francis explained that yes it is sexist even if he didn’t intend it to be sexist because erasing women from existing as police officers perpetuates the cultural normative stereotype that women aren’t police officers. This can be done overtly by stating that women shouldn’t be police officers or subtly by using terms that equate the position with only men like the term policemen. Gene continue to defend his use of sexist terminology and insists that other people are creating new definitions to words. Don’t they know that policeman has always been used to talk about police officers? Francis points out that tradition doesn’t make the term right cause sometimes people need to change tradition to end sexism. Gene has agreed to not use the term cause it offends our poor sensibilities when really Francis wants Gene to understand WHY and after understanding WHY for him to decide he doesn’t want to erase women from roles that were traditionally considered men’s roles. Francis won’t get that wish it seems because Gene would much rather prefer to not be called a sexist than to listen to why he is being sexist.

    This concludes our story of Gene and Francis. I am pretty sure that you will look at all the ways the analogy isn’t an exact fit (all analogies are not exact fits) rather than look at how it apples to your continued cissexism.

  36. 190

    The mockery started because you dug yourself so far into the hole (reached Beijing, surely): sex and gender might be effectively the same for the majority of people; but you’re talking on an LGBT subject, and the T in LGBT has a fucking meaning that you aren’t entitled to cavalierly dismiss because it doesn’t fit your cis-tinted glasses. Your argument is, and has been, nothing but a continual repetitious and pig-ignorant insult to trans people, except that you are too stupidly arrogant and obstinant to consider that, and I hope you stick the flounce.

  37. 192

    Reading through this reminds me of an exchange I had on this very blog (also regarding words and their meaning). This time Angra’s in my shoes.

    OT: Angra – your blog looks really excellent (and I’m interested in your extremely comprehensive Kalam objections). It is a shame comments seem to be disabled.

  38. 194

    Thank you, Jason, for allowing the thread to continue. There was never any realistic hope that Angra Mainyu would come down from his pedestal for long enough to gain any kind of empathy, but he gave such wonderful examples of privileged cluelessness for refutation. I have every hope that other readers/lurkers will have learned something from the exchange.

    I hope others will understand, as he failed to, that using terminology that helps people to ignore the experience and/or existence of a particular class of the underprivileged is not the same as telling people that they don’t exist, and that nobody said that it was the same except him.

  39. 195

    In all honesty, I learned something myself, because I think it’s the first time I’ve ever encountered “same-gender marriage” in discussion and while it sounded wrong, I couldn’t immediately place why. Thanks for taking charge, all of you. And especially WilloNyx whose stamina is impressive.

  40. 197

    I agree! And what an impressive thread derail it was; not so much a derail as a branch line leading to better things. As I said in the Genderbread Person thread,

    “…since when did we have to improve the status quo by replacing something absolutely horrible with something perfect? A replacement only has to be better than what we had before, yes? ”

    And that was what was wrong with the original subject of this thread; what the president of the US said wasn’t better than what went before, when the whole of what he said was taken into account, and in many ways was worse.

    He seemed to me (an ex-pat Brit, currently living in Australia) to be addressing two audiences, each of which he hoped would focus on different aspects of what he said. He seemed to hope that those of us in favour of allowing marriage between any two adults who wish to marry, without discrimination, would be so delighted that he had ‘evolved’ into something approaching a decent human being that we would ignore what came after because we would be celebrating; and that those who prefer to restrict that right to a particular band of people would focus on his telling them that his personal feelings won’t be allowed to affect his political actions and he won’t stop them voting for and enacting discriminatory laws.

    But we who want universal rights aren’t stupid. We noticed his duplicity, and we are angry.

  41. 198

    I didn’t want to weigh in on the thread at the outset, as like Tigger I’m in Australia, and we have our own problems with stupid federal politicians holding stupid positions on issues of whether people like me deserve the same rights that others take for granted (and does it get tiring fighting the same fight on so many fucking different battlegrounds). However, my initial positive reaction (in a blog comment elsewhere) to Obama had said something acknowledging that same-sex should have the right to marry was immediately tempered by the fact that he had mentioned states’ rights. That’s sort of two steps forward, three steps backwards, in light of the news from the previous day about North Carolina.

    On that problem of Obama putting out a mixed message, I’m totally with Josh – it’s an uncomfortable position for Obama to have to negotiate this issue in an election year, but by saying this is a states’ rights issue, he’s in effect condoning the bigotry of the Bible Belt states (and elsewhere where that mentality is well ensconced socially and legally).

    RahXephon paraphrased this attitude of Obama’s extremely well in comment #42: “I personally support gay marriage, but I’m gonna leave it up to the states to decide to take your rights away, like North Carolina just did.” Yep. Sure it sucks to be Obama in being unable to do very much about the states (but actually I’m not so sure about that, if he really wanted to!), but it most definitely sucks, way more to be an LGBT person growing up in those parts of the US where you will be treated like a second-class citizen.

    BTW, I forgot one thing I was going to mention in comment #187. Apparently there are ‘taboo words’, and Angra’s real crime was that he used one of them. Uh uh. Still wrong.

  42. 199

    WilloNyx, you were/are awesome. =^_^=

    Sorry you had to carry on the schooling all by yourself for so long. I joined in as soon as my attention was drawn to this post, and so did others, but nobody reads every blog post on FTB. Even someone like me, who is presently confined to bed and bored out of my skull hasn’t time to read everything so we have to rely on the serendipitous discoveries by people who we happen to be interacting with elsewhere.

    I didn’t see you as stepping in to take over something that isn’t your business; I saw that you were the brave person who saw an injustice being done and stepped in to rectify it despite the fact that you could legitimately have claimed that, as it doesn’t directly affect you, you have no obligation to correct the language being used. That is being a true ally. Thank you from the bottom of my misbehaving heart!

    Willing to listen; willing to be corrected of mistakes; willing to acknowledge personal ignorance and ask for education, willing to use thought and intelligence to better the world even in small things; these are true virtues that you have in spades and that Angra certainly doesn’t and might never have.

    I think I would like to be you one day! =^_^=

  43. 200

    I just want to say thanks to everyone who showed up. I never expected Angra Mainyu to react as negatively as ze did. I only thought I was politely pointing out to a probably reasonable person where ze was misusing words. No such luck.

    This is new stuff for me. As I mentioned earlier, I am cis and Having to long detailed (and heavily nuanced) discussions about a subject I have privilege in makes me a bit nervous. I don’t want to fall into a privilege trap but I am willing to climb my way out rather than dig the whole deeper like Angra.

    I know that reading the words “same gender marriage” screamed out to me every time I heard them. I started to get worried that those words only screamed at me though because for a little while it was just me and Angra. I started to worry that I was rushing in to save the day for people who didn’t need or want to be saved. So I am thankful to hear that I wasn’t out of line to call out this error. I ask that if I was out of line in anything I said, that people please tell me.

    I promise to listen.

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