The elephant in he US Budgetary room

The US economy is broke because of overwhelming military spending.

This went on since 2003. “Coinciding” with the aggression in Iraq, the interest rates were driven into essentially negative figures to mask the economic consequences of the war. These low interest rates fueled the boom that led to the 2007-8 bust.

Now they are fighting over a “debt ceiling” in Congress, with BOT sides ready to plunge the country deeper into debt, but the “conservatives” want Obamacare defunded as part of the bargain. Without debating the merits of Obamacare – this wil not resolvclve the issue as the debt will STILL increase. Conservative pundits saying it is a way to fix things miss their own aims.

Defund the military and do not raise the ceiling is my answer. And I really want to find some US politicians who would say that. Not seen in the media…


Notes on heterosexuality

NoAnodyne in Elizabeth Hungerford’s blog challenged me to deconstruct the definition of heterosexuality. This was in response to a debate on defining lesbians vs. trans, when I showed the definitions could be made equally subjective or objective. I responded to the challenge but as of now the comments are not approved, possibly because they are too long. Copying them here – don’t want the work to go to waste. (Note, “you” refers to Elizabeth as I got confused and thought the challenge, which I did find interesting, came from her).

  1. I’m generally not interested in defining lesbians, I was reverting your (actually NoAnodyne’s) practice of defining trans, and also referring to the attacks on Jan Clausen because she failed to meet someone’s definition. As far as I personally care, any woman who says she is a lesbian, can well be, and if others want to reject her from their particular circle of lesbians, they well can.

    But when a *political* movement (generally “GL”, rather than “lesbian”) wants legislation, this affects the whole society – just like the trans movement. I was showing that the level of social engineering and “legislating fiction” requested by the mainstream GL movement is in no way smaller than that requested by the mainstream trans movement.

    As for deconstructing “heterosexual”, that one is not so hard and indeed might amuse you. That word has a few definitions, often resulting in the same person being AND not being heterosexual for different observers. As I’m doing this in your blog I’ll keep the word “gender” out of it.

    On a social level “heterosexual”, or (perhaps a better fit to this definition) “straight”, is a bucket group applying to anyone who, for whatever reason, is known to be in sexual relations only with those perceived to be of the opposite sex to the person, and also to anyone who is not known to be in any sexual relationship at all, but has not expressed a preference for same-sex relationships. Yes, a default option applied from the outside, much like the one you don’t like, “cis”. Only, while “cis” is mainly applied by trans people or their allies, “straight” (and sometimes “heterosexual”) is applied by the majority.

    On an individual level “heterosexual” is a preference for relationships with people who the person perceives to be of the opposite sex to themselves. Sounds simple – but the exact meaning of “preference” here is a matter of fierce debate.

    Some claim that individual heterosexuality only applies when the preference is deeply felt, while if a person prefers such relationships for reasons of conviction (or convenience) yet has a feeling for same-sex relationships, the person is really bisexual or even in some cases homosexual. Other people dispute the claim. This is the dreaded “ex gay” debate, where both sides routinely resort to all sorts of smears.

    Even apart from that debate, there are loads of cases when external “straight” and individual “heterosexual” do not align. Some examples:

    – Men routinely raped in prisons are described in some prison-related subcultures (and sometimes in wider society, but not sure how that works in the USA) as homosexual, while their own preference is often heterosexual.

    – Some people have feelings for both sexes and sometimes identify as bisexual but, being in a long term relationship with someone perceived to be of the opposite sex, are seen socially as straight. For women this even encompasses the case when she had a relationship with another woman before; men are not as easily “forgiven for their past”, especially when there was no loud “conversion” involved.

    – And then, of course, there are trans people and there are people in relationships with trans people. There definitions can go all sort of crazy because there is what sex a person perceives oneself to be, what sex a person perceives their partner to be, and what sex various parts of society perceive each of them to be.

    To summarize – “heterosexual” is really not that meaningful. The only objective part is who any person is with currently, but even there you can have a BIG can of worms sometimes, even when no rape or violence is involved.

    I really think sexual attraction is a fluid complicated thing (there was a reason I repeatedly mentioned Jan Clausen). Labels, including “heterosexual”, were made up for convenience or in early research (Kinsey, who was great for his day but relied on “snapshots” at a fixed time, for all I know he did not do long term follow up). These labels fail to stand at detailed scrutiny. “Heterosexual”/”straight” is probably the most fickle of them all, because of the tendency to stick it on someone as a default.

    To make it a simple slogan, “stop sticking labels on people”. Applies to all orientation labels and to all sides.

    Bringing it right back to the main subject of discussion, this complicated mess of definitions is why I would prefer to subsume sexual orientation (and gender identity) discrimination law into “behaviour stereotypically associated with sex” (which is how California defines gender expression). I *hate* the idea that someone would have to stand in court and prove their “sexual orientation”. But even if the court simply takes people at their word (which won’t happen as employers have lawyers), there can be cases where one is discriminated for being perceived as gay, but actually identifies as heterosexual.

    For example, take a man discriminated for being in a relationship with a trans woman, whom he perceives as a woman. He can not say under oath “I am gay”, nor is he trans himself, which might prevent him from claiming discrimination for either sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a sex stereotyping / gender expression law is sure to protect him.

    Leave sexual choice (among adults) to themselves, keep labels out of it, keep employers and other people who a person does not let into their private sphere WAY out of it (and build a legal wall keeping them out, too). That’s my “libertarian ethic” applied.

    Yes, the approach does not lend itself to class analysis, except if you construct a class of all people whose behaviour is not approved by a majority because of sex stereotypes. Call that class “queer”. The problem is that “queer” is probably a majority itself as most people disconnect from sex stereotypes somewhere. So we still get no useful classes.

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    After posting, I did think of a “biologized” definition of heterosexuality, which would be exclusive or predominant attraction to the opposite biological sex irrespective of personal perception. I think such a definition is meaningless because personal perception is a part of the way sexual attraction works. One is attracted after perceiving a person to be of some sex, not before. But I have constructed an experiment to determine orientation of this definition and I would love to be a subject.

    Take photos of faces of a number of people in two makeup sets. One heavy “male”, the other heavy “female”. Have a theatrical professional do the makeup. Have some of the subjects a different ethnicity from the subject’s surroundings, so the hints the subject has learned in life also does not work. (For example, for experiments in Europe or the USA, have the photo sets done in Japan – they have great gender makeup artists there working in Kabuki and Takarazuka, and their faces are not very gendered for European eyes too).

    Present the photo sets to the subject (each subject has two separate runs, with one set and the other). Ask the subject to evaluate the relative sexual attractiveness of people within each set (not comparing between the sets but giving a 1-10 grade to everyone in a set). Ideally use objective measures to evaluate attraction too.

    This experiment would rule out gender presentation and measure sexual attraction to sex only. My hypothesis is an “everyone is bisexual” result.

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    …you got me started on heterosexuality. Knowing more about it just means I can deconstruct more. And the thought trail got me to a clear statement.

    (1) Sexual orientation used as an identity is harmful
    (2) Heterosexuality is the most harmful of them all

    The harm of any sexual-orientation-as-identity is that it is tacked on then the person is expected to conform. A boy has a crush on another boy, is welcomed into the gay community, then can be shamed as “not true” for liking a girl. (There is a lot of “biphobia” in lesbian circles too, I have that from bi female friends).

    The specific harm of heterosexuality-as-identity is in how far some people go to preserve it. Cases like the murder of Gwen Araujo are described by trans authors based on who the victim is (transphobic) and by radfem authors based on who the perpetrators are (male violence). None of these narratives touch upon the likely motive. The perpetrators were sexually attracted to Gwen, perceiving her as a woman, and had oral sexual intercourse with her because of this attraction. Then they found out she was physically male. What was threatened was not their sexual integrity (she did not attempt to use her penis on them), it was their identity as “heterosexual”. And they decided to kill her to “erase” the “violation” of their identity, the fact that they were attracted to a person whom they now, retroactively, perceived as a man.

    And I can, indeed, be described as “heterosexual”. Still I consider heterosexual identity especially harmful. No contradiction, just “libertarian ethics”. I identify with what I choose, not with what I feel. I identify as married to a certain woman, not as heterosexual. You are not cis? Fine, I am not het.

On where I work

In case anyone needs to know, I work for IBM in Ireland.

ALL OPINIONS, STATEMENTS, AND ANY OTHER SPEECH IN ANY OF MY PERSONAL INTERNET ACCOUNTS, OR SIGNED BY ME, OR POSTED ANONYMOUSLY BY ME, OR ORIGINATING FROM ME IN ANY WAY, DO NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF IBM, ANY OF ITS DEPARTMENTS, MANAGERS, OR PARTNERS. Even if I happen to discuss IBM products, actions, or history, this is a personal position ONLY. An exception is any material published through official IBM channels or on an IBM Web site.

Keeping my place of work a secret is impossible, I was “outed” at least once.

Please. Pretty please. If anyone wants to mention where I work, link here instead. I don’t want to have to carry a disclaimer to every single post I ever make.

On why the “gender critical” arguments are to be rebutted not rejected

This was originally written as a comment here: ; editing as a post because I think the point is important. Disclaimer: I do not identify as a feminist (though, being an individualist liberal, subscribe to many of the same political/social beliefs as liberal feminists do). i use the word “feminist” extensively because the context is about a feminist document, and because “gender critical” authors are trying to claim they represent feminism; really the issue is wider than one movement.

Real issues affecting the lives of most trans people are not decided by any form of feminists, TERF or otherwise. Only a minority of trans people are interested in feminist activism, but all are affected by government policy on issues like identification and access to treatment. This policy is decided by politicians and the electorate, not by feminists. The “gender critical” side appears to be working on a two pronged strategy: presenting an outwardly convincing theoretical rebuttal to trans rights that looks pro-woman rather than fundamentalist and ideally appeals to a broad part of the female electorate, and at the same time presenting trans people and their allies as bullies, aggressors, etc.

They do not stand a chance of getting anywhere close to enough support on their own to mater in anything practical. But there is a very real risk of conservative politicians using their theories – as well as their presentation of trans people as unstable etc – as a part of a political attack on trans people. This could, for the fundies, be a way of rebounding after losing their battle on same-sex marriage. And this could be extremely dangerous – especially here in Western Europe where transition is, currently. usually covered by state-funded medicine.

For that battle, a powerful feminist theoretical response to their outwardly rational theories might be a strong weapon. I do get your point of a boycott as a way to disallow them to appropriate feminism as a whole for a political battle. But, whether or not you engage them as persons, it appears to be quite important to have ready responses to their repeatedly proffered points. Ideally to publish some sort of “101″ that lists these points one by one with a coherent response to each. (I did some little attempts in my blog but, I guess, they don’t amount to much – though perhaps my exposure of some alleged doctors they quote might prove useful).

Such a list could also serve a therapeutic purpose for trans people feeling bad about “hurting women” after reading some “gender critical” texts. I think that some of the signatories to that statement could do a great job of this one.

Another part is their (“gender critical” radfem) repeated claims of “rape/violence threats” from “trans activists”. These should be investigated. I recently have a feeling they might be the work of transphobic sock puppets, and exposing such could be quite good for any upcoming political battles.


GallusMag is a liar

GallusMag, of the “GenderTrender” blog, is a liar.

She has a post there which she claims is unmoderated, all comments are approved except for pornography and “doxxing”.

I posted a comment there, about two things – that groupthink is bad (on all sides) and that she posts hate. I explained that her post about Mina Caputo (WARNING: search for it only if you want to read prime hate speech) is pure homophobia with nothing else. Neither pornography nor “doxxing” was contained there. The comment was deleted.

The likely aim of her exercise is to approve only those comments from her opponents that she believes would show them in a bad light, or perhaps so something else beneficial for her project.

She is a liar. I now think that many, if not all, of the alleged “threats of violence” from trans activists are fabrications by her.

She continues her line by allowing a trans commenter then accusing the person of posting violent threats, which the person (oopster74) denies. I say this is simply making things up.

(If my post appears I will remove this one. Not likely. And in any event, ANY alleged “trans” threats of violence should be checked for being fakes. This appears to be an intentional smear campaign; a campaign of outright criminal libel).


Brief answers to typical “gender critical” claims

This is a small summary of my views on a few issues that are typically asked in some debates I sometimes participate in, regarding treatment of transsexuality and related topics. (I am not trans myself but have an interest in the matter for some friends).

Q: “Brain sex” theory is bad, so treatment is not medically necessary etc. (Blanchard often referenced)

A: I do not need to debate the theory part, as medical necessity of treatment is not contingent on that particular theory of the cause. It is based on measurable and repeatedly shown improvement of quality of life in properly diagnosed transsexuals who are treated with hormones and eventual surgery. Blanchard, who opposes the brain sex theury and whose own theory is a beloved for “gender criticists”, SUPPORTS medical necessity of treatment.

Q: Any reference to Paul McHugh (including John Hopkins clinic), Zucker, Bradley, Fitzgibbons.

A: These people come from fundamentalist, in case of McHugh and Fitzgibbons Roman Catholic, positions that bias their “research” to the point of total ineligibility. McHugh has misinterpreted the results at Hopkins, possibly intentionally. More on that team:

The views of these people are easy to find, but their writings (or references to them) repeatedly crop up in “gender critical” discourse, because these are the ONLY medical professionals with any credentials at all who disagree with the existing consensus on the treatment of transsexuality. And, yes, they are linked to supporters of “reparative therapy” for gays, too.

Q: some “trans-activists” engage in speech that appears to threaten violence

A: some such individuals do exist but they do not represent “the movement” as there is simply no single movement. Some “gender critical” radical feminists engage in homophobic slurs and cyber-bullying of minors – should one judge the “radical feminist movement” based on those actions?

Q: so is “trans” an illness or not? The mobvement seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

A: There is, again, no single movement. I support the position, espoused by many but not all “trans activists”, that transsexuality is a disorder and thus there is medically necessary treatment, which should therefore be funded on the same basis as other medically necessary serious treatment, and requires a strict diagnostic procedure if only because of the side effects. A mere desire to present as the other gender, on the other hand, is not a disorder but a behaviour. There is no rational basis for discrimination on that behaviour, at least when sex-segregated spaces are not concerned.

Some trans activists seek to remove medical diagnosis from the picture in the case of transsexuals, but I find that position is not only unsupportable, but throws thousands of European transsexuals under the bus – as the presence of a diagnosis means, for them, access to state-funded medical care. The acitvists who hold to such a position are probably either Americans who don’t hope for any funding (or are supporters of a fullyu private system anyway), or else unrealistic socialists who expect “service on demand” (unworkable as real socialism involves control and planning, and if you don’t trust me on that – I am an avowed anti-Communist – then ask ANY knowledgeable Marxist).

Q. Trans-activists seek to invade explicitly “born women”‘s spaces like Michfest and Radfem conferences.

A. I believe they are very wrong about that as these are provate gatherings. People can have private gatherings on AMY grounds they choose. The funniest one was the RadfemRiseup case in Toronto – protesting a private party of 30 people in a metropolis? What next, picketing someone’s birthday? This was probably not even the biggest trans-exclusionary gathering going on in the city at the time (most Roman Catholic gatherings, for example, would qualify).

Having said that, re Radfem in london specifically: there is a legitimate reason to protest any speaking engagement of Sheila Jeffreys in the UK. Because of her position, *not* because of whoever is or is not let in.

Seeking to deplatform speakers who advocate repression and removal of access is valid activism. Barging into private noncommercial spaces where on is not wanted is not.


Proposal: ban sale of porn, abolish commercial copyright on it, not touching distribution

UPDATE: on some thought, the measures should be tweaked to destroy the possibilities of getting around them, which are, as far as I can see, an advertisement-support model and a model whereby a purchaser of something else gets access to pornographic material. And yes they can seem paradoxical – destroying by encouraging distribution? Yet, hit the profit motive and money flows away from it…

I was thinking for some time about the debates around pornography. There are people, like radical feminists and social conservatives, who decry it because of its degrading nature and the rampant exploitation in the industry. And there are other people who stand vigilant against any censorship, including that of sexual expression.

I think I have an idea that might satisfy both sides to a reasonable extent, protect real people (mostly women) from exploitation and abuse, and yet pose no threat at all to other people who find pleasure in sexual expression for interested audiences. Moreover, if done in amy major jurisdiction (ideally the USA), it would hit the porn industry worldwide!

The proposal includes two measures.

(1)  A complete outright ban of SALE of pornographic material. The ban is on the act of sale (taking payment), with perhaps a light penalty for purchase (giving payment), but not on the act of production, distribution, or viewing – so no censorship concerns. In the USA, the ban could be federal, limited to sale across state or national boundaries, and relying on the constitutional provisions for regulation of interstate commerce.

(2) Abolition of copyright on material that becomes illegal to sell. Free distribution, thus, becomes legal, and the content provider has no legal recourse against unlimited copying. Thus, domestic producers who somehow route around the ban and all foreign producers get hit painfully, because all their work ends up available for easy-to-find free download and they can do nothing about it. In the USA, the Constitution authorizes Congress to create copyrights and patents, they are not common law rights; so removal of copyright will be constitutional.

I am surprised no anti-porn activists appear to have come up with the idea. It would face MUCH less opposition than any censorship system, while also hitting the sex industry where it hurts. In fact, any political opposition to it would look like total dirt.

I can just imagine that debate… Free expression? – what’s the problem, go ahead and express yourself, make your art or text or film or whatever and give it to the world and get a worldwide rabid following. The discussion would then shift to the commercial model of the sex industry, and who can defend that?