David Thompson
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January 10, 2010

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sk60

"It's a long-held stereotype (and still exists today) that disability is unnatural in people and so must be fixed or cured."

Stop that medical research now! Helping people walk again is an insult to their dignity!

David

The Disabled Feminists article is quite bizarre, but I heard similar sentiments being aired on Radio 4 not too long ago. I remember a legless and very prickly “activist” insisting that it was “oppressive” to view, say, the loss of a person’s legs as in any way regrettable. Viewing this loss as something negative was apparently “ableist,” “ignorant” and offensive. This claim was repeated several times, quite emphatically. At one point the activist declared that given a chance to walk again he would refuse, such was his “pride” in having lost a third of his body. It seemed to me there was a displacement of anger from the obvious grievance – the traumatic loss of one’s legs – to the supposed “injustice” of regarding limb loss as a dismaying or terrifying state of affairs.

As a coping mechanism, it wasn’t entirely honest or successful.

JuliaM

"Stop that medical research now! Helping people walk again is an insult to their dignity! "

I never cease to be amazed that there are people who ACTUALLY DO think that way. And that they are taken seriously by the media, instead of being made a laughing stock.

hanmeng

"Stop that medical research now! Helping people walk again is an insult to their dignity!"

In a similar vein,

Stop giving assistance to the poor! Helping them is an insult to their dignity!

Jason Bontrager

"I have too many female friends with penises to put all my faith in biological determinism"

"Oh, that was easy," says Engraged Feminist, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets herself killed on the next zebra crossing.

SG

"I do not believe that binary gender is natural or fundamental to our biological existence as humans, or even as animals... I think many of you already get where I'm coming from anyway. Finally, I want to identify myself as a White, young, Queer, cis male, though I am increasingly beginning to identify as genderqueer."

Jesus, these people just CANNOT get over themselves.

David

“Jesus, these people just CANNOT get over themselves.”

Oh, but how could anyone tire of listening to people defining themselves, then redefining themselves, then telling us about themselves all over again in light of some personal breakthrough or new tribal category?

R. Sherman

Damn, that binary gender business, what with its procreation and attendant evolutionary aspects. We can all rebel against such social construction, aided and abetted by "The Patriarchy," by just learning to reproduce by dividing ourselves into two genetically identical halves, as our social superiors the amoeba.

David

Self-preoccupation is essential to this kind of tribalism, along with an urge to pathologise the prosaic. If the prosaic can be made to sound oppressive or inauthentic, it makes those who announce themselves as nonconformist sound much braver and more interesting than they actually are (if only to themselves). For instance, the clownish Amanda Marcotte rails against any number of “normativities,” all of which she seeks to pathologise. It isn’t enough that she doesn’t feel an urge to become a parent. She has to claim that those who do wish to become parents don’t know their own minds and are dupes of some hegemonic power. In much the same way, the preference for an intact and functional body is depicted as both a parochial social construct and a moral failing. And likewise, the belief that “binary gender” is not “natural or fundamental to our biological existence as humans” is based on an occasional malfunction of the very biological processes that are imagined not to exist.

But this is what gorging on identity politics does – it fosters unrealism and makes dishonesty routine.

Often there’s a creep of small dishonesties. For instance, the disabled feminists article grumbles about the Avatar synopsis, which refers to the film’s protagonist as “confined to a wheelchair.” The author complains, “Non-disabled people may think… referring to someone who uses a wheelchair as ‘confined to a wheelchair’ is okay – but of course, it’s really not — ‘wheelchair user,’ for instance, is more acceptable.” But this means avoiding a perfectly legitimate and accurate term - Jake *is* confined to a wheelchair; that’s sort of the point – and instead using a fluffier, much vaguer term. “Wheelchair user” could mean that Jake only uses a wheelchair when he gets tired (of walking). It’s hardly the stuff of interplanetary drama, and more to the point it’s deliberately imprecise.

Spiny Norman

Is it sign that Western Society has become *too* successful, when mediocrities like these self-appointed "activists" have the luxury to indulge in this kind of mental masturbation?

Spiny Norman

By the way: *tongue planted firmly in cheek*

Jason Bontrager

Spiny: if by "too successful" you mean "decadent", then yes:-(

Karen M

"Finally, I want to identify myself as a White, young, Queer, cis male, though I am increasingly beginning to identify as genderqueer."

"cis male"? "genderqueer"?

David

Karen,

“‘cis male’? ‘genderqueer’?”

I think our friend likes to think of himself/herself/itself as both non-transsexual but still “gender transgressive.” It’s worth bearing in mind there’s often a certain competitiveness in such circles, and a Stranger-Than-Thou aesthetic.

I guess the idea is to avoid referring to non-transsexual people as “normal,” which some regard as having pejorative implications. So “non-trans” became “cisgendered” or “cissexual” - meaning: “people who are not transsexual and have only ever experienced their subconscious and physical sexes as being aligned.” “Genderqueer” is apparently the favoured term for people who are deemed to “transgress gender” – i.e. they’re androgynous or sexually indeterminate, or like to think of themselves as neither male nor female (or possibly both). And then there’s the whole issue of which pronouns to use (or whether to use them at all due to their terribly oppressive nature).

Needless to say, the various identity micro-tribes get agitated about improper use of these terms, the meanings of which seem to vary on an almost weekly basis. Quite possibly the definitions have changed since I looked them up and I’ll be corrected in due course.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisgender
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer

Horace Dunn

David

"...the meanings of which seem to vary on an almost weekly basis..."

I think that clause tells us pretty much all we need to know about the kind of people under discussion here. Shall we say: "Not Serious"?

David

Horace,

“Shall we say: ‘Not Serious’?”

Well, I’ve nothing in particular against transgendered people, but in all activist identity groups there tends to be an unusually high concentration of narcissists, ideologues and assorted tossers. Which may help explain the friction between various micro-tribes. (See, for instance, below.)

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/05/tears-and-role.html

Chris S

How about people who suffer from post-Avatar depression?

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/

TimT

Actually a gender-swapping plot would be quite interesting for a number-two or number-three Avatar film.

Ayrdale

"Self-preoccupation is essential to this kind of tribalism, along with an urge to pathologise the prosaic. If the prosaic can be made to sound oppressive or inauthentic, it makes those who announce themselves as nonconformist sound much braver and more interesting than they actually are (if only to themselves)." R. Sherman.

This is the template for many of our so called community activists, who rail against GE, globalisation, fox hunting, global warming etc, etc. At its heart is a deep self loathing, even better and much more self satisfying if that hatred can be directed against the whole of humanity.

Baltar's Beard

David, seen this?

"Avatar is an insightful and important film... a chilling metaphor for European butchery of the Americas... This is why the right hates Avatar."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jan/11/mawkish-maybe-avatar-profound-important

Guess who?

David

Heh. This is George we’re talking about, so wild supposition and inadvertent comedy are inevitable. (I notice the article Monbiot links to in order to support his claims about genocide actually contradicts him quite emphatically, twice.) Still, what matters is that George gets to smear “the right” with dubious motives he can’t actually prove or find even one quote to support. We’re told that “conservatives” (i.e. people who are insufficiently leftwing) actually dislike Avatar because of something akin to Holocaust denial. It seems to me conservative pundits who disliked the film made their objections quite clear, often at tremendous length.

Presumably the stated objections weren’t sufficiently nefarious, which must be why George feels obliged to invent new and uglier ones: “Liberal and conservative reactions have tended to be slightly different: the liberals are rightly concerned about the idea that a white messiah is needed to rescue the native people, the conservatives suggest that the natives had it coming to them.” I’ve read quite a bit of “conservative” (i.e. not leftwing) commentary on Avatar and none of the pieces I’ve seen suggested anything of the kind. “The natives had it coming”? I mean, really? When it comes to casual distortion and bizarre overstatement, Monbiot’s up there with Amanda Marcotte. And that’s not a good place to be.

Tim239

Genocide? Weren't Native Americans decimated by European diseases?

"In 1618–1619, smallpox wiped out 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans.[39] Historians believe Mohawk Native Americans were infected after contact with children of Dutch traders in Albany in 1634. The disease swept through Mohawk villages, reaching Native Americans at Lake Ontario in 1636, and the lands of the Iroquois by 1679, as it was carried by Mohawks and other Native Americans who traveled the trading routes.[40] The high rate of fatalities caused breakdowns in Native American societies and disrupted generational exchanges of culture."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Americans_in_the_United_States#Impact_on_Native_Populations

Franklin

"Cisgender (pronounced /ˈsɪsdʒɛndər/) is an adjective used in the context of gender issues and counselling to refer to a class of gender identities formed by a match between an individual's gender identity and the behavior or role considered appropriate for one's sex."

Considered appropriate by whom? I'm being oppressed!

I rather enjoyed Avatar, and I was bracing for the worst. We gleefully made fun of it afterwards but it was good enough for a couple of hours' amusement.

Spiny Norman

"Genocide? Weren't Native Americans decimated by European diseases? "

This is quite true, but if you should bring it up with the Moonbats and Zinns of the world, they'll tell you, with a straight face, that it was very much intentional; germ warfare before anyone knew what germs were.

Luther

The thing that gets me, is that most 'aggrieved' folks nowadays need mention the past for their basis. No credit given for the present... in other words; The world changes but of that there is of no notice of. It's all the worst all the time...

Sorry, I've had a bit to drink.

rxc

I saw this movie at an IMAX theater, and it was visually stunning. However, I wonder how many of the viewers realize that the "unobtanium" that was being mined on that planet is essential to the operation of the computers that are used to make 3-D movies...

Mary Jackson

"It's a long-held stereotype (and still exists today) that disability is unnatural in people and so must be fixed or cured."

Well Jesus really put His foot in it. He should have embraced the leprosy. Maybe it's because he was Cis Man and Cis God.

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