Sunday, 20 March 2016

Joan Smith: transphobic or ignorant?

The following represents my opinion of Joan Smith's article in the Independent on Sunday today.

This is part of what Joan Smith wrote in the Indie today and it is profoundly dishonest in my opinion;

"That’s why I think feminism is robust enough to weather attacks from some trans activists, who seem unable to disagree with distinguished figures in the women’s movement without trying to turn them into hate figures. I disagree with Germaine Greer on various issues, including prostitution, but her 1970 bestseller The Female Eunuch remains an intellectual challenge and an inspiration. Personal attacks and calls for “no-platforming” have no place in one of the world’s great human rights movements."

Dishonest, and indeed disingenuous because it attempts to situate trans people as being opposed to feminism. This is the way the standard-issue, concern-trolling, disingenuous anti-trans activists argue. For Smith's information trans people are also feminists, indeed I would wager that a greater proportion of trans people describe themselves as feminists than cis people. Feminism is not under attack from trans people nor has it ever been. Nor are the vast majority of feminists opposed to trans people in the same way that Greer is. A small group of anti-trans fanatics who describe themselves as "feminists" have attempted to use feminism as a cover for bigotry and hate-mongering. These people routinely attempt to set up a false division between trans people and feminism, as Smith has done, but this is done deliberately to mislead.  

So there are two alternative scenarios regarding Smith's outburst today. The first scenario is that she is as dishonest and disingenuous as these bigoted anti-trans activists. By attempting to position trans people in opposition to feminists, she is employing the same tactics used by them and many other oppressors throughout the ages. If this is the case she should be regarded as just another cheap shot transphobe and join the long list of privileged people bullying trans people like the far-right evangelical "Christian" fanatics attempting to introduce laws aimed at bullying trans people, especially trans kids, into taking their own lives. If so she is beneath contempt.

On the other hand she could simply be repeating what has become the mantra of the privileged who have not really thought about or understood the issues relating to no-platforming. Does she really think that Germaine Greer's brand of transphobic hate is something we can politely disagree with? Has she ever tried arguing with a person who hates her? If so she really has a problem, and in my opinion is both ignorant of and unaware of what she is writing about. The herd mentality has taken over regarding the issue of no-platforming and the white cis-privileged middle-class have opted for simplistic arguments rather than understanding how privilege actually works.

Whether Smith's outburst is genuine disingenuousness and represents an attempt to harm trans people, or whether it is pure ignorance and banal herd-following, it represents a pretty unedifying end to what is hopefully her last column in mainstream media.  

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