While I was out and about in Bristol yesterday, my Twitter feed was buzzing with comment from outraged women. There were two main issues.
The first one is that Dave Truesdale has gone and put his foot in his mouth again. The regularity with which he does this is such that a generous interpretation would assume that he understands outrage marketing and was deliberately trolling female writers and fans in search of traffic for his website. Sadly I’m not convinced that Truesdale is that bright. When he says that he’s not seen even a smidgeon of racism or sexism in science fiction, what he probably means is that he views the supposed intellectual and moral superiority of the white male as a scientific fact, and that therefore stating it cannot be seen as discrimination.
Of course this is the sort of attitude that leads to Men’s Rights Activism and claims of “reverse racism” when it comes up against how the rest of the world sees things.
Anyway, the day did produce one superb blog post: this one in which Amal El-Mohtar recruits famous female SF writers from the past to make her case for her.
While women readers and writers of science fiction around the world were dealing with an actual case of sexism, the white feminist media cabal in the UK (otherwise known as the Lobster & Bolly Set) were up in arms over what they believe to be a far more dangerous threat to feminism: trans women.
Yes, it has been penis panic time again. Our TERF friends appear convinced that all trans women have secret penises with which they will mercilessly abuse any non-trans women that they can find. Now it is certainly true that not all trans women have surgery. Some can’t afford it, some have good medical reasons for not risking it, many are simply on their way through transition, and some have their own reasons for not opting for it. But for the TERFs it is a case of once-a-penis-always-a-penis. So I guess I have a political penis: it might not exist in reality, but for TERF political purposes it is just as real as any man’s pride & joy, if not more so.
Pressed on this, the TERFs are likely to claim that anyone raised as male (even if only for the few brief years needed for them to learn to talk) will have been culturally conditioned for masculinity, and will forever more exhibit behavior that is ineluctably masculine (yes, I did choose that word deliberately). However, even if they were to find a trans woman who looked and behaved in a way they deemed entirely female, they would simply claim that this person had successfully “deceived” them by hiding their “true” nature.
So there you have it. As far as your typical British media feminist is concerned, my supposed political penis is far more threatening to them than anything that Dave Truesdale, or even Elliot Rodger, could come up with. It is good to know that they are keeping their eye on the really important issues while the rest of us are busy with trivial stuff like campaigning on behalf of women writers.
I’d like to see some of them come to Finncon and demand that I be forced to use the men’s sauna.
Meanwhile, because at least one of them is undoubtedly screaming BUT SCIENCE! at this point, here’s an actual science article titled, “What your science teacher told you about sex chromosomes is wrong”. Odd that the same bad-science excuses used by men to justify sexism are used by TERFs to justify their hatred of trans women, isn’t it.
Update: via CN Lester on Twitter here is an excellent overview of how different types of animals decide what sex they are. Hint: it is hardly ever anything to do with chromosomes.