Four questions for ‘Terfs,’ answered

I wrote a post asking some questions to FtMs and some lovely people have taken the time to answer. Thank you all! I do want to respond to each of you but this is going to take me quite a while. The first thing I want to respond to is a list of questions for ‘TERFs’ that someone wrote to me in response.

You can find the list of questions here.

Before I start, I just have a little disclaimer about the word TERF. This word is a slur similar to “bitch” or “cunt,” as you can see from the way people use it in conversation. Women don’t identify with this word or call themselves this word unless they are being sarcastic. When I call myself a ‘TERF’ I’m using it sarcastically. I kinda think it’s funny that because I believe that biology exists and because I care about women as a class that makes me a member of a hate group. Well, it’s funny but it’s also not funny. Anyway, here are my first four answers to the questions for TERFs asked by blogger Skepto. Since my answers are so long, I’m just including the first four here and I’ll answer the rest in another post.

(1) What is a “man”, what is a “woman”? If there are people who are neither: what are they?

Simple: a man is an adult human male, and a woman is an adult human female!

However, I never give an answer that short, so I’m going to keep rambling for a while.

We humans reproduce sexually—that means that we reproduce by introducing a sperm from a male human to an ova from a female human. To facilitate this process, males have a penis and testicles, to create sperm and inject it into females, and females have a vagina and a uterus, which allows us to gestate a baby and then give birth to it. You’ll find that these are measurable, observable facts that vastly predate the existence of so-called “TERFs.” We didn’t make this up to oppress trans people, this is what humans have observed about ourselves since the beginning of time.

The word “man” exists to refer to adult humans who are male—that is, they have a male reproductive system that produces sperm which can fertilize ova. The word “woman” refers to adult humans who are female—that is, they have female reproductive systems that can become pregnant and give birth. Everyone who speaks English, unless they have been indoctrinated into the trans cult, understands these meanings of man and woman.

Now on to the topic of intersex. People with intersex conditions are very rare, they are less than 1% of the population, and they are simply people with ambiguous or atypical sex characteristics. They might be males with atypical male organs, females with atypical female organs, or people with a bit of both male and female anatomy. Intersex people do not represent something else entirely besides male and female, they are just atypical males or females, or a combination of the two. There is no third sex that is completely unrelated to male or female. The existence of intersex people doesn’t negate the facts of mammalian reproduction—despite the fact that nature creates a few atypical specimens in any given species, the vast majority of humans are unambiguously male or female, have typical sex characteristics, and can reproduce sexually, whether they choose to or not.

People who claim an identity as neither male nor female don’t usually have an actual intersex condition that makes their sex impossible to classify, they are usually unambiguously male or female and there is no reason for them to believe they’re not. If you want to know what sex you are, it’s quite simple: does your body produce sperm or ova? And it’s not necessary to look into your internal organs to figure that out. If you have a penis and testicles, that’s because your body is male and if you have a vagina and you menstruate, then you are female. I’m betting that 100% of “nonbinary” people know whether they need to use contraception during sex or not, because they understand reproductive anatomy and know what to do to prevent a pregnancy. They know whether they are female or male, they just prefer not to call themselves that or think of themselves that way.

Claiming that you are neither male nor female when you actually are is silly and nonsensical.

(2) A person is born with a vulva. The people around them refer to them as a woman, use “she” pronouns, and tell them they must not use the word “man” or “he” to refer to themselves. One could argue that these are unnecessary rules and limitations placed on them based on their anatomy just as much as the expectation that they wear dresses, play with pink dolls, wear make-up, etc. Do you disagree? If so, why? What difference do you see between the various limitations?

I think that pronoun use and enforcing sexist expectations on people are completely different things, and I don’t think that the use of anatomically correct pronouns is harmful. The reason we use she/her pronouns for people born with vulvas is because she/her pronouns are grammatically correct pronouns for females, and people born with vulvas are female. This is just a function of language. Language is there so we can communicate, and when we are communicating about someone female, female pronouns are used. The use of female pronouns doesn’t say anything at all about a person other than the fact that she is female. Therefore a female who has any kind of presentation, attitude, behaviors, mannerisms, and feelings, is called she/her. People who use male pronouns or plural pronouns to refer to a single female are not communicating effectively—they are misleading the listener about who they are talking about.

The expectations that girls have to wear dresses and makeup are completely unnecessary, sexist cultural expectations. Absolutely nothing is gained by girls wearing dresses and makeup other than the maintenance of a set of social rules about who girls are. This is an unfair and harmful practice for reasons that we can measure and observe. For example, girls often don’t want to wear skirts because they inhibit movement, they make her cold, and boys want to look up her skirt. Girls don’t want to wear makeup because it’s uncomfortable and it takes unnecessary time and money. Name any sexist expectation placed on females and I’ll give you a legitimate reason why its harmful, but I don’t think you’ll be able to make a case that harm is caused to a person by use of pronouns. It’s simply a matter of accurate grammar. It’s impossible to cause someone harm with clear communication and there is no reason why the use of a value neutral part of speech could reasonably cause someone distress.

Trans people do acknowledge their biological sex in other ways. For example, when people call themselves FtM they are acknowledging that they were born female. Similarly, calling someone AFAB acknowledges they were born female. For some reason, acknowledging that someone was born female in these ways doesn’t seem to bother the trans cult, but the use of female pronouns does. This doesn’t make sense. She/her pronouns, AFAB, and FtM all communicate the same thing—that the person in question is biologically female. If there was actually any harm in acknowledging someone’s biology, then trans men would never call themselves FtM or AFAB, they would just call themselves male and nothing else. The thing is though, there is no harm in acknowledging someone’s biology. It’s a morally-neutral, judgment free fact that communicates nothing about a person’s personality or feelings.

When females experience distress at being called a grammatically accurate pronoun, it’s because they are in a social situation in which they wish for people around them to not view them as female. However, it’s almost always possible to tell whether someone is male or female just by interacting with them, and chances are, even if a female gets everyone around her to agree to not calling her female, they still know she’s female. All this pronoun stuff actually accomplishes is that is forces people to play pretend that they don’t know what they know about a person. I don’t think it’s right to force people to pretend something that isn’t true and I don’t think anyone is harmed by acknowledging their sex.

So to summarize that, pronoun use is not a harmful thing, and it does have a purpose—clear communication. Forcing girls to comply with rules about wearing dresses and makeup is demonstratively harmful, and has no positive or necessary purpose.

(3) Similar to (2), but it might elicit different answers, so I’m putting it in as a separate question anyway: what does it mean to you to abolish gender? Would this include abolishing gendered words (like pronouns, “man”, “woman”, etc.)? Would it include abolishing gendered bathrooms, locker rooms, prisons, etc.? Why/why not?

This question is completely different from #2, so I’m glad you asked them both! Feminists want to abolish gender, but not sex. It’s impossible to abolish the realities of mammalian reproduction. Humans will always come in male and female, because that’s the way our species is created. Whether we like this or not, it will always be. There is no reason to abolish the words man and woman because those words simply communicate adult human males and adult human females. These will always exist as long as humans exist, so there is no need to abolish them, and it would be quite impossible to do so.

You are conflating gender and sex in this question, so let’s address that. Sex is whether you have male or female reproductive anatomy, and gender is a set of behaviors, mannerisms and appearances that communicate your sex to other people. We place certain expectations on men and women to look and behave a certain way, and when people defy those expectations they may be able to appear as the opposite sex in certain social contexts. Gender is a social construct that can change according to time period and culture. It’s not a fixed or essential part of human beings, it’s a set of expectations that exist because of the culture that created them. You change the culture, you change the expectations we have of men and women. You’ll also hear feminists say that gender is a hierarchy—that’s because the expectations we place on men and women are specifically designed to keep women subordinate to men—they are a part of the system of patriarchy. Gender is often used as a synonym for sex roles or sex stereotypes—feminists want to abolish these roles and stereotypes about women because they are harmful to us.

We certainly should not end sex segregation of males and females in places such as locker rooms and prisons. These spaces are not segregated by gender, they are segregated by sex. That’s because females are vulnerable due to their ability to become pregnant and need to be separated from males in places where they will be undressed. The reason for this separation is that males have a tendency to sexually abuse females, and this needs to be prevented.

(4) Do you support elective body modifications like piercings (ears or elsewhere), tattoos, braces, implants (e.g. magnetic implants, birth control implants, breast implants, cosmetic implants like artificial horns or artificial cheekbones), breast reductions, mastectomies, hysterectomies, sterilization, hormones (e.g. as form of contraception, to reduce post-menopausal problems, or as part of transition), laser treatment for hair removal or to correct eyesight?

I have done a lot of thinking on this question, because it opens up a whole philosophical discussion. The short answer would be that I do not support any elective body modifications. Of course, I never give a short answer to anything, so here is a long-ass essay!

Human beings are not Mr. Potato Head toys—we can’t just mix and match body parts as we please, taking off one and adding another like it’s no big deal. Humans are living animals and our bodies are what we’re made of and who we are. Any time a knife or a needle cut through flesh, that is an injury to the body and it’s a form of trauma. It’s something the body has to heal and recover from. Even taking hormones is not healthy, it has side effects and we don’t know the long-term effects of taking cross-sex hormones over a lifetime. We should automatically default to NOT injuring our bodies or risking our health unless there is some compelling medical reason to do so, such as for example, having a medically necessary surgery to save one’s life.

Some forms of elective body modification are more serious than others. Obviously a tattoo or a piercing are low risk and minimally invasive, while something like genital reconstruction is more invasive and more risky. I’ve never understood why people get piercings—it would be completely nonsensical to me to poke a hole in my body and put a piece of metal through it. It seems unnecessary and painful. It would give me anxiety to have a piercing. However I don’t write blog posts against piercing just because it’s minimally invasive and low risk, so there’s not much point in getting upset over it. For the record, I find it really horrifying when people pierce the ears of their babies and young children who are too young to consent. I consider this abuse. Laser hair removal is another example of a low-risk, non-invasive body modification. I think it’s unnecessary, but since it doesn’t cause injury, I’m not getting upset over it.

There are more serious forms of body modification that I make more of a point of speaking out against. I’ve written against labiaplasty a couple of times and I’ll be writing against it again—there’s an article I want to address in a future post on that. Any body modification that involves a surgery, a cutting of flesh, a removal of a part, or the sewing on or addition of a part, is an injury to the body and it’s wrong on the basis that people should not injure themselves.

I’m not against surgery that is performed for medical reasons and that is necessary for good health. Having a necessary medical procedure done to improve one’s health is about self-care, rather than about self-hate. Elective surgery is about self-hate. It’s done because the patient believes there is something wrong with them. I don’t believe it’s possible for a body to be ‘wrong.’ If you believe your body is ‘wrong,’ the problem is not your body, the problem is your attitude toward it. The size and shape of functional, healthy body parts is irrelevant—what’s relevant is that they are healthy. The idea that a healthy body part is ‘wrong’ is a negative judgment that is not accurate and is harmful toward yourself. I don’t believe it’s medically necessary to change one’s body in order to resemble a member of the opposite sex, and when people feel distress over their sexed body I think the origins of that distress are mostly cultural, emotional, and cognitive, and should be addressed with psychotherapy.

I am just as against modifications such as breast implants and cosmetic surgery designed to make someone better conform to a cultural ideal as I am against transgender surgery. I’m against body modifications on the basis that they are a form of self-hate and self-injury, regardless of the reasons behind the modification. The degree to which I am against a particular form of body modification depends on how invasive and risky it is, not on the type of reason behind it. I don’t see the various reasons for body modification as being much different from each other. Whether a woman is trying to look more like an ‘ideal’ woman or more like a man, the situation is the same: she doesn’t believe she is right the way she is, and wants to conform to an idea of how she thinks she should look in order to be happier. I don’t believe happiness comes from running away from your physical reality and artificially modifying it, I believe that happiness comes from self-acceptance and self-love. Being grounded in your physical self and in your physical surroundings is necessary for good health.

There is another necessary part of this conversation, and that is that I don’t actually go out in the world and stop people from having cosmetic surgery. Women are free to get breast implants or take testosterone as they please, and nothing I am doing is preventing that. People certainly have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies. What I do is promote an analysis of the cultural conditions that lead women to want to modify their bodies, because I have an interest in the well-being of women as a group. (And by ‘women,’ I mean all humans born female, whether or not they identify as women or have made body modifications.)

At the very heart of this conversation is the philosophical question, “is it acceptable for a living organism to injure itself?” You could argue this two ways. My argument would be that it’s always wrong to injure a living organism, even if it is yourself you are injuring. Sure, you have full agency over your own body, but that doesn’t mean you should harm it. Everyone deserves to be free from harm, including you. You deserve wholeness and good health. The other way you could argue this is that everyone can do what they want with their own body and no one has the right to question it. This second opinion is quite prevalent in society right now—we are encouraged to think of everyone as an individual with agency exercising their own choices. This individualistic notion of people choosing their own choices is coming from neo-liberalism, an ideology that promotes capitalism (the free market) and discourages class consciousness. This is a political position that is being sold to the masses on purpose by people in positions of power because this belief system keeps people focused on consumer spending as a path to fulfillment, which puts money into the hands of the people who are running the world. For more information on this, see Gail Dines’ lecture Neo-liberalism and the defanging of feminism, available on YouTube. I am against neo-liberalism, capitalism, consumer culture, individualism, and “I choose my choice because AGENCY” type politics. I believe in class analysis, which means looking at large numbers of people and social trends, I believe in looking at what is driving social trends, and I believe in fighting on behalf of entire classes of people (women, the working class).

I believe that a whole, natural, unharmed body is a positive thing to value, and that everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin. I believe in changing the culture we live in so that fewer people will be dissatisfied with their bodies, and I’m saddened when people feel so much distress over who they are that they can only continue to live by becoming someone else. Although I agree that everyone can do what they want with their own body, I’m not satisfied to stop my political analysis at the agency of the individual.

Phew! If anyone has made it all the way to the end of this post, I’ll buy you a beer.

I’ll answer the rest of the questions another day, in another post.

46 thoughts on “Four questions for ‘Terfs,’ answered

  1. You can buy me a beer but I’d suspect it won’t keep very well being transported several thousands of kilometres. We’ll just have to clink glasses.

    I will say I think in particular your first answer is one of the best explanations I’ve seen about the whole dismissal of sex counting, particularly when biological essentialism is trotted out whenever women reference their anatomy. It’s a fact, and being female is inextricable from being a woman, not matter what contortions you go too to make out it is not.

    And yes, we need to change the culture. There’s a lot more that can be said about it, and areas where opinions will differ as to how we can achieve this, but it should be about that above all.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Also note that denying your sex/using the wrong pronoun is actually unsafe, at least in certain circumstances. If you have an individual whose birth certif/ID has been changed to say ‘male’ when they are in fact male, then if they need any kind of emergency health care, if their sex is mis-identified (and/or any hormonal drugs they are using are not disclosed), they could end up dead on an operating table, due to incorrect information about their sex in regard to medicine. For example, a F2T person (with the aforementioned ID changes) could get hit by a car/etc., end up unconscious and severely injured, and all you’d need is one health care professional to make a mistake and be all ‘well, this individual looks sort of female, kind of, with facial hair, but their ID says male’ and then give the F2T drugs that are designed for the male body system/in dosages for the male body system, and that would increase the chance that the F2T would die, whereas if the individual used correct identification of her actual sex on her ID (and thus socially, subsequently her pronouns), this would be less likely to happen (also note that the various drugs that come with transitioning would affect survival rates too).
    And even if you had someone nearby to explain what the F2T was, a F2T, and any hormonal drugs (assuming that every F2T has a random person who follows them around for this purpose), the time taken to explain this would mean more time for the F2T to bleed out while the health care professionals waste time worrying about ‘misgendering’ someone when they should be worrying about saving her life.
    Point being, your sex matters. The reason why we have sexed pronouns is because of this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t have medical training apart from a first-aid course and things I’ve heard and read about various conditions and treatments and drugs, but as far as I know, the different metabolization effects of certain drugs in men vs. women are due to hormonal levels, so people with a testosterone-dominant endocrine system would respond the same regardless of whether the testosterone was produced by themselves or injected. Dosages should be adjusted based on that as well as weight and maybe age.
      (I know this is true for blood pressure, risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, and blood clotting, at least. I’d be kind of surprised to find an effect of reproductive anatomy there, since this is usually not anatomy involved in handling toxins.)

      I’ve gotten curious about this now, though, think I’ll ask around.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Update: I asked a nurse and former EMT – he confirmed that medication given in emergencies is not adjusted in any way based on gender. The only situation where being trans might be an issue is if you come in with abdominal pains and whether or not you have a uterus/a prostate might be relevant, but in such situations, people are typically conscious and could explain.
      Also, an easy workaround would be to keep a note or something in your wallet close to your ID where you explain your physical status – if you mark it with a red cross, that should cause any EMT looking for your ID to have a look at that as well.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Very clear and to the point. A digression to the elective surgical change question. . . Is gender dysphoria a pathology? If it is a disease, then can it be cured? If it can be cured, then morally, should not the cure be available to all? Can gender dysphoria be both a disease and the true nature of a person? How far is a society obligated to pay for correcting the subjective ‘mistakes of god’?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand your questions, and have thought about them myself. I have started to think of dysphoria both in terms of mental illness/neurological issues and social forces acting dynamically. And I’m sure there are other cases that involve a third, fourth, fifth, etc. variable I haven’t mentioned or thought about.

      Though I’m sure some folks experience dysphoria but aren’t physically prone to mental illness at all, I think some people experience dysphoria in part because they are more prone to mental illness. I think this about myself — I have OCD, have high levels of anxiety and tend to “hyper-think,” grew up with some moderate social issues and therefore lacked a robust/normal social life in my childhood (I don’t think I registered all of the subtle social info related to gender presentation/mannerisms as a kid), and have had severe gender dysphoria. All of that said, I don’t think I would have experienced gender dysphoria as one of the results of my proneness to mental illness if we didn’t live in a highly sexist and gender conforming society. Still, my other manifestations of OCD, like having an eating disorder, HIGHLY resembled the troubles I had when I wanted to transition. Pure obsession and anxiety, repetitive thoughts and actions. I’m sure a functional brain scan would have revealed exaggerated OCD patterened images at the height of both the eating disorder and the gender dysphoria, until I found a way to control the symptoms through temporary medication use and CBT. I wish it was easier to receive brain scans, because then it would be easier to identify people who experience OCD and who are in the thick of a flare-up. I wonder how many trans folks are right in the middle of their own OCD troubles and don’t know it, because sometimes when I watch their Youtube videos I feel like I’m reliving a familiar OCD nightmare.

      The questions you raise yield highly complex answers from what I can tell so far.

      Another nuance: my skin is fairly sensitive to textures and tight clothing. One of the reasons I began wanting to wear looser clothing from the boy’s section and strange combinations of clothing as a kid (like wearing sweaters under sleeveless dresses my mom made me wear, or sandals with long socks, or relaxing, heavy jackets while I was at my noisy school, or boots) was because I hated tight shirts with those short sleeves with elastic that squeezed at my arms, or the feeling of wind on my arms when I wore sleeveless dresses, or pants that felt too tight. I have heard tons of neurotypical women complain about how mainstream women’s/girl’s clothing is uncomfortable, with the tightness and unnecessary scratchy adornments, but it’s totally unbearable and hard to even concentrate for people with sensitive skin.

      I suspect there are thousands more women/girls with similar neurological sensitivities that have lead them to choose gender nonconforming clothing. I have read a few articles about the tentative correlation between females who have high functioning Asperger’s syndrome and their higher likelihood of identifying as trans. I don’t know the answers, but I wonder about how their skin sensitivity has influenced their clothing choices beginning as children, how that has influenced how they have been treated and their self-concept, and about how their lower intake of social cues relating to gender conformity in their formative years have made them more statistically prone to identify as trans in their adolescence or adulthood. And why does current evidence point to the trend that FTMs are more likely to have Aspergers than MTFs? Social forces meet a neurological condition? Something else? That’s another deep question.

      Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. I have insomnia, it’s 1 a.m., and this sucked me in! As a final note, though I do strongly suspect proneness to mental illness and/or neurological conditions are factors for some people with dysphoria, I think the biggest factor of all is the enormously sexist culture we live in. I tend to think all women experience dysphoria — even the ones who appear to conform to gender rules. Because the only way to truly conform to being a “proper woman” is to just wholeheartedly accept being treated like shit. Haha!

      Liked by 5 people

      • You accurately identify some of the features of ASpergers which in girls make negotiating social expectations very difficult. Many FTMs would be spared the Trans experience if they had a diagnosis and understood their motivations better. I strongly beleive girls are claiming a Trans identity for different reasons to boys. But both share a socially constructed distorted idea of what it means to be a woman.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I think so too! Our system is failing girls and young women on the spectrum who become trans. A lot of women aren’t even diagnosed until they are much older, if at all, because doctors tend to look for AS characteristics typical of males but not females. If the only change the psychological institutions made with transitioning is to just slow the process wayyyy down and look at the entire picture of the human being — their trauma, the possibility of asperger’s, social anxiety, OCD, etc. —- I would feel grateful.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll take you up on that if Im ever in your part of Canada again. I think the further you are from power, the more important it becomes to sell you the idea that you chose to be where you are, because otherwise you might start getting the idea that the power structure itself is wrong. (Hmmmm.) Yesterday, I posted to my fb wall an analysis of US politics that looked at why people are voting for Trump. Instead of the usual “these bad people are voting for the racist, sexist abusive asshole from hell because they are all racist sexist abusive assholes who chose that” line which honestly I have heard come out of the mouths of far too many people, it delved into the destruction of rural communities, the ways the working class has been gutted by neoliberalism, and the fact that people object to a boot on their neck.

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  5. If ever we meet, I will happily buy you a beer! An excellent and indeed eloquent response to questions I would characterize as disingenuous at best, and sophomoric, that is on the level of the old catechism class question: If God is all powerful can he make a boulder so large He himself could not move it? The questioner thinks he’s being dead clever and will confound the teacher, when in fact this question is neither clever or confounding. You responses were thoughtful and clear and entirely persuasive, IMHO. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for writing this, it’s a thoughtful look into the beliefs of someone I have very different moral intuitions from, and that is always fascinating!

    Section 4 was by far the most interesting, and I have some questions about your responses. First, I wonder if this is a wording issue, did you mean to use “organism” when you wrote “it’s always wrong to injure a living organism”? I can completely understand ‘human’ or ‘animal’ but organism implies I have done something wrong by eating beans and rice for dinner, and that is a rather extreme position.

    Second, you say that while you don’t agree with people using their agency to harm themselves, you don’t step in to try and stop it. Is this a comment on the reality of your current situation, or something that is integral to the answer? IE, if you could physically or legally prevent people from altering their bodies in ways you find harmful, would you? Dose the question of how extreme it is then come into play?

    I’m curious what you think about the concept of Dignity of Risk, and politically motivated definitions of harm. But I also know you have a life and a lot of typing planned in your near future, so no sweat if you want to skip any of these!


    • Oh gosh, I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t eat beans and rice! I’m not even a vegetarian, so…I’m not sure how to explain how eating works, except for that living things have to eat and we have to eat other living things, so that’s a form of harm that can’t be avoided. I don’t try to stop people from doing things like body modification because they have the right to do that and aren’t likely to die from it. I would only stop someone if they were about to do something dangerous that would result in death. It would be fine with me if we outlawed things like breast enlargement or labiaplasty, because those are things that are just plain wrong and unecessary, but ultimately people have a right to do those things regardless of what I think about it. I’m not sure if that clarifies anything!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the reply, and yes, I think I understand you better! I figured you were making an exception to eating and other unavoidable sources of harm, but it’s never good to assume.

        It’s interesting, I think in practical terms what we want the world to look like is more similar than different. I’m a transhumanist, I think people should be able to modify their bodies however they choose. But for all body modifications to be considered acceptable, we need a foundation of all bodies being considered acceptable. The right to not modify your body is integral to your right to modify, and both need to be defended much more than they currently are.

        So, you don’t want to prevent people from modifying themselves (barring cases that would likely result in death), you want them to decide not to, based on the strength of your arguments. If I understand you correctly, that is a 100% ethical and admirable goal, and I’d gladly share a beer with you over it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • In general, it would be better if we could eat stuff that was never alive. Clearly, though, that’s not possible, until we perfect designer meat and stuff like that. This is not an issue of ethics but an issue of necessity. The only alternative is to die.


      • The best ethical discussions come out of unpleasant necessity and strange edge cases, and “what is the most ethical way to eat?” is a great example of that.

        For instance, I think it would still be ethical to eat plants, even if we create a synthetic substitute. I think veganism is the most ethical option, followed by hunting and small scale farming, but a duty to your own health and taking realistic stock of your situation are more important concerns. I think that eating is an area that requires some of the most permissive ethical guidelines.

        Lots of people disagree with me on all of those points, and talking about the underlying beliefs that lead to these situationally specific ones is a great way to understand why people believe what they believe.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Why people believe what they believe” is a pet topic of mine. And I do agree that individual health needs to be a prime factor. But most importantly, we need to develop synthetic alternatives which do not rely on substantial amounts of living tissue.


      • But there is TVP (soya) and Quorn (mycoprotein), plus the old staples of tempeh (soya), seitan (wheat), and tofu (soya). To me, a plant-based diet is ethically preferable to a dead-animal based diet. The most synthetic of the above list is Quorn, and, it is the one that often hangs around on the shelves, and the one that can cause digestive problems for people. People = women, which makes one wonder why.
        Different food will never catch on whilever there are the meat/livestock interests lobbying government. And it’s not just for food. Look at the leather/tanning industry that forms a major part of it.
        There are some excellent non-animal foods. Availability is one problem, traditional habits is another, and that’s before economics come into play.


  7. Pretty much agree and clearly explained. Well, to those who understand.
    Two points.

    The use of female pronouns doesn’t say anything at all about a person other than the fact that she is female. Therefore a female who has any kind of presentation, attitude, behaviors, mannerisms, and feelings, is called she/her. People who use male pronouns or plural pronouns to refer to a single female are not communicating effectively—they are misleading the listener about who they are talking about.

    That could be read ambiguously as some attitudes behaviours etc are specifically female. I don’t think you mean that. I’d probably amplify to add, ‘that doesn’t confirm to gender stereotypical expectations’ as I initially misunderstood it.



    The degree to which I am against a particular form of body modification depends on how invasive and risky it is, not on the type of reason behind it.
    Except you do go on to discuss rationale and self-hate, cosmetic surgery, and – how women should look. That is a BIG part of body modfication whether tattoos, piercing, breast enhancement, botox yak yak yak, so that sounds slightly contradictory.

    I’m not sure we should call ourselves terfs in mock irony. It’s like calling ourselves bitches and cunts.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Your answers are very well thought-out and a good example of how to analyze this sort of nonsense. However, I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea to indulge their misogynistic insults like TERF. Oh well. When your opponents are bigots, the best way to show them up is to show how reasonable you are, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: First response and follow-up questions – Omphaloskeptomai

  10. For whoever asked question four, I wouldn’t put braces in the same category as piercing and other procedures. It’s true that with braces a lot of the focus is on, “and now your teeth can be beautiful and straight just like famous people”. Still, it is often medically necessary. It is not good to allow your teeth to grow in crocked and start to impact your other teeth. It is difficult to clean them and can cause numerous jaw problems. I used to have so much crowding that it was almost impossible to floss my teeth when I was a kid and I had canker sores all the time because some of my teeth were trying to grow in sideways. The same goes for wisdom teeth removal. Some people can keep them, like my brother, but in my case they were going to impact my other teeth.

    I would also consider breast reduction to be in a grey area. In many cases it is medically necessary. I even seriously considered it at one point because I used to have a lot of back problems. I was friends with a woman who had one breast that was a whole cup-size bigger than the other one. She eventually got the reduction, and afterwards didn’t have back problems (she was taking narcotics for it) and her asthma all the sudden got better. It turned out that she didn’t have really bad asthma, but her lungs and chest cavity were literally being compressed by the weight on her chest.

    As for me, I agree with this blogger on a lot of things. Individuals do have the right to choose what to do with their bodies, but unnecessary surgery because you don’t fit into some arbitrary societal ideal is self-harm and it is definitely not feminist.

    It also seems kind of weird to me that people often ask radical feminists “but what about plastic surgery” when the criticize SRS. The thing is that feminism, real feminism not this neo-liberal me, me, me bullshit, has often criticized elective plastic surgery and beauty standards as being misogynistic and anti-feminist. It’s not really a new idea.

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  11. BTW the Hungarian language manages with a single third-person singular pronoun (ö ) regardless of gender. (Unfortunately Hungarian does gender many nouns, especially those related to professions – ie there is teacher and there is woman-teacher.) We could change English to work the same way wrt pronouns (without regressing wrt professions) if we wanted to. Gendered pronouns are not a necessity, only a product of the history of languages.


  12. Pingback: Purple Sage answering some FETA questions. | The Prime Directive

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