Kimberlé Crenshaw joins This is Hell! to discuss her new book, #SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of Police Violence and Public Silence (Haymarket Books).
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Are you feeling yourself today? Lucky you.
There’s a small part of the population that’s feeling sick today. There’s also a small part that’s feeling down or alienated or grumpy. There’s also a small part of the population that feels like they’re not in the right body today.
Gender dysphoria is a real thing. It’s been described to me by those who’ve had to deal with it, as have the feelings of affirmation on discovering the source of the problem and doing something about it. We counterpose gender, as in gender roles imposed by society, as a quality separate from sex, which we have been taught is biologically determined at birth and inherent in an individual’s genetics. We’re taught there are two sexes, male and female, the infamous “sexual binary.”
Certain political movements, standup comics, evolutionary biologist atheists, and authors of whimsical childhood wizardry adventures seem to believe that transsexuality is the act of using the costume of gender to disguise oneself as a member of the opposite sex. They also seem to believe things even more wrong, but delving into that morass is a topic for another day.
Biological sex is more flexible than its common definition: xx chromosomes equals woman, xy chromosomes equals man. To quote from an article by Claire Ainsworth published in Nature magazine eight years ago and reprinted in Scientific American:
“Gene mutations affecting gonad development can result in a person with XY chromosomes developing typically female characteristics, whereas alterations in hormone signaling can cause XX individuals to develop along male lines.”
She goes on to describe many different instances where hormonal signals governed by varying activity or occurrences of some genes, or the sensitivity or insensitivity of some cells to certain hormones, can blur the lines between the two sexes we generally talk about as having solid boundaries between them. Changes can occur from as early as a few weeks into an embryo’s gestation to a decade or two or more of living in the world.
The conclusion of biology is that sex, not just socially-constructed gender, is a spectrum, that the rigid dichotomy probably doesn’t apply to most people, and demonstrably not to at least one person in a hundred. And those are just the people doctors define as having... read more
Revisiting Willy Wonka’s Racism
Hi, in the background you might hear the sounds of the the ongoing “power tool and mariachi polka on the radio” festival. That’s live radio!
It’s quite a coincidence that, right on the heels of my Moment of Truth about world leaders dissolving in bathtubs, a kerfuffle has arisen about making the language in Roald Dahl less offensive to today’s children. Or their legal guardians. I’m not big on censoring the past. Atrocities of yore should be preserved in museums for study, like the flag of the Confederacy or Robespierre’s final lobster bib. But in this case I agree with making Dahl sanitary for today’s little baby liberal snowflakes. Hear me out.
Parents are raising their children to frown on bullying. No one ever liked bullies, and we had plenty of bullies when I was growing up. Had there been the weight of common moral discourse on the victims’ sides our lives might have been a little less horrible. Some of us might even have enjoyed athletics instead of being bullied out of participating in them. I myself might have been less of a bully about the things I’m a bully about. Then again, I might not be as attracted to women who resemble Irish bullies in the Little Rascals, which would be a minor tragedy.
Aside from the tight controls imposed on a child’s time and location – and of course the mass shootings, especially in schools – almost everything I perceive of how children are being raised seems better today than when Roald Dahl was writing endearingly about transporting pygmies in crates with holes in them – I’ll explain in a second. Progressive values seem to have made it a better time to grow up than when I did. Yes I resent it, because I was raised to resent first and feel empathetic joy only after a period of forcing myself to swallow my gigantic, jagged pride.
Roald Dahl has been criticized for his old-school social attitudes since his writing was first published, and his already published work was edited for unpleasant content – by his own hand, no less – back in the seventies, so this is not new. When the NAACP first called out the racism in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he said he felt they were acting like Nazis. He had to be convinced by a concerned literary friend to make a big change. It’s a good thing she prevailed on him to realize... read more
The philosophy of my obscure political party, The Socialist Leisure Party, is being proven right again. It’s been proven righter and righter with each passing day. The Socialist Leisure Party must become the dominant political party in the world, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get off my ass to do anything to make that happen.
You might ask, “What is The Socialist Leisure Party’s philosophy?” Jesus Christ, really? Can’t you just figure it out? Do I really have to – ?
Oh, all right. The SLP’s philosophy of history is that history’s real winners are the ones who achieved the least. The ones who got the most sleep. The ones who somehow worked it out to secure the most time to do nothing but stare off into space or make brownies with the kids. The ones who stopped to listen while the grasshopper fiddled. The goldbrickers down at the poolhall.
“But what about the SLP’s platform of universal luxury communism?” you might ask. “How can luxury be produced or maintained if no one’s willing to work? And how is the abundance in the economy of abundance visualized by the Socialist Leisure Party supposed to come about if no one’s going to work to grow and accumulate the surplus for the public?”
These are great questions, but I’m tired. The easy answer – and the SLP is all about easy answers – is that to create luxury requires time, which is itself a luxury. A luxurious building made for the public to enjoy displays the time required to create every part of it. It is not created under the whip of the efficiency supervisor screaming “time is money, you lazy drones.” It’s created by artists and craftspeople who eat healthy, good food. They live comfortable, dignified lives. When they look in the mirror they can respect themselves.
We currently grow and process more food than we eat because of our emphasis on getting the most material out of every action we take. The über-wealthy pay a little extra for higher quality goods but even they waste about half of their over-sized portion of global food wealth.
It’s not a secret that unequal distribution of everything – whether necessities or luxuries – is the lingering issue creating most of the intra-species problems among human beings. Our inability to divide our living and agricultural spaces fairly or wisely... read more