How Dare You Not Pretend
January 26, 2022
In the comments, Mr Muldoon steers us to the latest mental rumblings of Ms Laurie Penny:
Ms Penny is, I think, referring to fellow feminist Julie Bindel, whose review of Laurie’s latest book is not entirely positive, and who chose not to refer to its author as a suddenly ungendered being. But the broader claim is perhaps worth exploring.
I can’t say that my own views on modish pronoun stipulation make me feel “cool and edgy.” If anything, they seem fairly self-evident and unremarkable, not the stuff of obvious scandal or sudden intakes of breath. And I doubt that anyone here is likely to feel “threatened… by the ideas of a more progressive generation.” Though Ms Penny’s tendency to self-flatter – her inevitable trajectory – does catch the eye.
Regarding rudeness, I’m generally polite by default, at least in person, and don’t go out of my way to needlessly put a kink in someone else’s day. I’ve had perfectly civil chats with people who regard themselves as transgender or gender-non-conforming or whatever. Nobody got upset. But what is often being asked – or demanded – is not a small thing, not in its implications.
Taken broadly, we are being asked to affirm, wholesale, a bundle of phenomena that includes not only actual gender dysphoria, whether the result of developmental anomalies or childhood molestation, but also autogynephilia, serious personality disorders, adolescent pretension, and assorted exhibitionist and unsavoury compulsions. The expectation seems to be that we should take these different phenomena, with very different moral connotations, as being one and the same thing, and then defer to them, habitually and uncritically. Which is asking rather more than can readily be agreed to.
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