Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Alas drama continues, plus some more anti-trans bullshit

The radfems versus Alas fight seems to have broken out again. Well, actually it’s more like a certain tiny subset of radfems plus a few garden-variety bigots versus pretty much everyone else on the left, with a side order of said tiny subset of radfems versus Amp specifically.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will point out that I’m not exactly unbiased here. Alas was one of the first places that I found that made sense to me when I started dipping my toe into blogging, and I’ve always been glad that it existed. I found a lot of other interesting blogs through Alas, and encountered some really great people. I also happen to like Amp, even when I don’t agree with him – he seems like a thoroughly decent human being to me. We could really use more of those.

So, I’m not unbiased here. However, even taking that into account…look, I can see why people might have been offended by Amp’s cartoon. (If those people took themselves far too seriously and had no sense of humor. Oops, there I go again being biased.) But, yeah, I get why the cartoon ticked some people off. If said people wanted to say “you know what, Amp, that pisses me off and I’d like to tell you why, and ask you to explain why you chose to tread on such sensitive ground” then OK, fine. That’s part of what blogs are for, after all, thrashing out our differences.

However…in what way is Amp’s weight relevant to this discussion? The man is a cartoonist, people, not a model. Washboard abs are not in his job description. A perfect body isn’t in the job description for a blogger, either – if it was most of the blogosphere would be out of business. And that’s OK – not everyone has to be conventionally beautiful, or skinny, or whatever. Pretending that everyone IS required to be physically perfect is, well, kind of fascist to be honest.

So, I’ll say it again over here. Argue with the ideas if you like. Critique the logic or the reasoning, but can we please lay off the personal insults? It’s irrelevant, it’s childish, and it’s shallow. Knock it off.

And about the trans issue, I’m just going to repeat what I wrote over on Alas.

“I’m no authority about trans issues, but here’s what bothers me about the way this conversation keeps playing out. It’s as if people want their abstract political theories to be more important than other people’s actual lived experiences. The implication seems to be that we have a theory on gender and trans people are fucking it up by existing, so they should shut up. We liked the theory, why should we have to change it just because that group of people over there keep telling us that it doesn’t work for them and doesn’t describe their experiences?

The problem with which is, those people do exist, and ignoring them and/or demanding that they stop mucking up your tidy little theory makes you A. not a very good theorist and B. a collossal asshole. Theories are MEANT to evolve, that’s why we call them theories, not rules.”

Is that clear enough? Theories are fine, theories are great, but when your theory consistently fails to address the lived experiences of a whole bunch of people you might want to do a little rethinking.


Arwen said...

Damn right.

belledame222 said...


And yes, Amp's a sweet guy, a real people pleaser; I've met him for meals twice now. Painting him as some sort of sinister "sex slaver" or whatever it is is like, I don't know, calling Mr. Rogers the Emperor Palpatine, or something.

Daisy said...

Theories are MEANT to evolve, that’s why we call them theories, not rules.”

Yeah, theories are theoretical, after all.

Lately, theories are confusing me. Last time this happened, I took a break from the "active" left for about a decade, so I'm trying to keep some perspective this time and hang in there.

Cassandra Says said...

Belle - That's what's getting me. Anyone's whose idea of a mean scary sexist dude is Amp...how do these people ever manage to leave the house?

Cassandra Says said...

Daisy - It helps to draw a mental line between the actual theories and the various idiots who misuse or misinterpret the theories.
After all, we'd hate to lose you. The land of online radfems desperately needs more people like you around to counterbalance the other ones.