July 18, 2012

Revolutionary Combustion

I’ve most often encountered the form/function distinction in architectural and design contexts, but I’m going to try my hand at applying it to feminist analysis.[i]

Words and meaning

I started thinking about this problem because of feminism’s struggle to retain control of certain words such as ‘woman’ and ‘gender.’ The truth is that feminists want these words to mean certain things. In the context of language, words are the form and meaning is the function. We can utter all kinds of words, but if they don’t mean what we want them to mean, then they don’t function as we intend them to. I may even like the sound or feel of certain words’ forms, but I need not be dependent on particular syllables or letter patterns to convey my ideas; I need to be able to convey the ideas themselves.

If my goal is effective political communication, I need to…

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20 Responses to “”

  1. RoseVerbena Says:

    My initial reaction to this essay is rage. Rage that we are having to have this conversation in the first place. Rage that the onslaught against women from the “trans” horde is so vicious, so relentless, so freaking MALE that decent, honorable, blameless feminist women are seriously considering giving up “woman” to them and running for the hills to come up with alternative ways to communicate the formerly shared, understood, easy concept that “woman means adult female human being”.

    Have we learned nothing? When we give them “woman” they come back for “female”. When we give them “female” they come back for “experiencing oppression as a young girl” and “female socialization”, even if there is no evidence of them having taken one single step towards “transition” or even thought about it until they were in their forties. They’re already claiming “lesbian” and insisting that real lesbians should be all about servicing their “trans-clit”.

    Are we going to have to resort to using pictographs of female bodies in order to communicate?!?

    Giving ground to them is a HUGE mistake. Every bit of “woman” we surrender to them just whets their appetite for more, more, more — like the freaking Borg. There is no “enough” with males who are OBSESSED with appropriating womanhood, with POSSESSING female.

    They’ll never, ever stop until they have invaded, destroyed and appropriated EVERYTHING female — or we stop them.

  2. GallusMag Says:

    Seriously though, I couldn’t agree more. I’ll say the same thing I always say to those who refer to male genderists as “women”: what word do you intend to use for adult female humans? And the answer is none. There will no longer be a word in the English language that represents adult females. None. Instead, we will be referred to by a word that NOW means “cluster of sexist stereotypes applied to adult females”.

    I get that some feminists think that “woman” ALREADY represents “cluster of sexist stereotypes” but I find the idea of reducing adult females to a NAMELESS status incredibly chilling. It does not feel like liberation to me. It feels like total erasure. That Which Has No Name. Fucking horrifying.

    And I agree Rose that there will never be an end-point to female erasure by the trans lobby. For no more point than the pandering to male fantasies that objectify female bodies. Doctors can NOT create females from males. They can enact systemic endocrinological and cosmetic imitations of females that are occasionally (very occasionally) uncanny. For males that objectify females and want to inhabit that objectification. For people so distressed by (or embracing of) sex-roles that they are wiling to mentally jump the shark into trans cult magik. That is all. That is all it is, all it ever was, and all it ever will be.

    The removal of all words for adult human females from the English (or any other) language is unacceptable to adult human females. We find “that which has no word to describe it” to be an unacceptable descriptor for us. Trans can invent any new word to represent themselves that they want. They will have to choose a word which does not diminish the representation of adult females.

    True progressive social justice movements do not seek to diminish the rights of, and the representation of, a class of oppressed people. The trans movement has tried over and over to bully inflict and impose themselves on females against the rights and concerns of females. To diminish us, erase us, destroy whatever tenuous infrastructure females have created for ourselves and fought for. Our rights to congregate amongst ourselves in public and private spaces, our rights to create reproductive health services for ourselves, our rights to defend ourselves against male sexual violence and coercion. Now they want there to be no word that refers to us.

    The trans lobby, like all anti-female movements, must be challenged by those who support female liberation. The trans lobby, like all anti-female movements, will not voluntarily stop trodding on females. It is up to women and our supporters to push back and fight for our rights as women. Women meaning adult female humans.

  3. KittyBarber Says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And yes, we will win this thing.

  4. Lisa McDonald. Says:

    This is the comment I left on the blog. Lisa McDonald.
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:31 am

    What about natally born females that can’t reproduce or choose not to reproduce does that make them less than female if feminism is based on reproductive organs and fertility? Is that really the massage you want to send? How many women have been driven to fertilty clinics because of this thinking? Why does one have to even be reproductively viable to be either male or female? Does a person even have to reproduce to have lived a quality life? Haven’t enough of us suffered by that thinking whether LGBT or non LGBT affiliated or simply heterosexual? Did a lesbian born female really have the exactly same childhood as a heterosexually born woman? If you were truly born lesbian then certain aspects of your childhood was unique to your experience and your perspective. Just like certain aspects of a heterosexual womans childhood was unique to that experience and perspective. My childhood as a person born with a cross sexed identify varies greatly from both of those experiences and I’m not trying to take away from either of them. Both of my parents constantly were pushing me to get married and have kids. I couldn’t do it and i couldn’t lie about who I am and what I am. Can’t you all identify with that at least a little bit? Can’t you see the harm of where your heading with this? None of us were born women, yes you and heterosexual women were obviously more headed for that and conditioned for that than I was but none the less here I am. Think about your born female sisters that were born infertile and their childhood lived experience. Especially think about how it is for those who didn’t know until they wanted a child. I’m not not asking you to accept me what I’m asking you, is to carefully think about the message you are sending and how that effects all women. Please be careful I don’t want to see my infertile natal sisters made to feel left out or forced to defend their womanhood or simply hurt by all this.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Haha concern troll is male. Don’t worry dude us females can take care our own liberation movement.

      All the answers to your questions are here:

      http://transgendertropes.wordpress.com/

    • Ashland Avenue Says:

      STFU, “Lisa,” and take your dumbass strawMAN argument with you out the door. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, here is believing/suggesting/stating that infertile or childfree women are not women. That’s a very tired old trope that trannies use in a pathetic attempt to obfuscate the issue. Of course, we see right through your nonsensical bullshit. Speaking as an infertile woman (and that’s woman-BORN-woman to you), I know that Gallus Mag does not believe this, nor do any of the other posters here. If that’s what you’ve taken away from the posts here, well then, there’s not much I can do to help you, as your sad reading comprehension level suggests a denseness that I simply don’t have the time or desire to try and overcome.

      “None of us were born women”

      ??!!

      Why yes, yes I was. Suck on it, asshole.

      • RoseVerbena Says:

        I think he’s correct, if by “none of us were born women” he means not the 50% of the species homo sapiens sapiens who actually WERE born women (female), but rather the 1 in 2,000 males with Gender Identity Disorder who imagine themselves to be women.

        None of them were born women (female) and they never will be women (female.)

        Delusional dudes are delusional.

  5. Adrian Says:

    It’s interesting to me, as a bilingual person, because the form of words is always arbitrary to some extent – you say one thing in English, something else in Japanese after all, and things very much do NOT map one to one. A word is only a pointer to a concept, there can be many pointers and many concepts.

    Of course what words point to what concepts is very much influenced (and I’d say DEFINED) by how the general public is using terms. That’s the battle the trans* cabal fights in their efforts to redefine everything, too. One person doesn’t get to say what words mean what, and that’s why you can argue pronouns to the sky if you like but the “vast unwashed” know what “she” is supposed to mean, they know what “woman” is supposed to mean.

    That said, I find it interesting that as the trans* friendly “queer” partisans (note the quotes) try to appropriate “woman,” language evolves and people started talking about “female” about “sex” instead of “gender” and then of course there was a further appropriation, now “sex” too is supposed to be about identity rather than biology, it’s laughable but okay, going with that, there’s ‘born with female genitalia” and that is met with the “female penis” and above the whole thing there’s “cis.”

    But the interesting thing about “cis” is – well, it can be claimed. It’s making that Distinction That Shall Not Be Made, namely admitting that “trans women” and “cis” women are not the same. Otherwise why would you NEED “cis?” So fine (well, not fine, but hey, granting it for a moment) – say this space is “cis women” space only.

    Sure enough, right as rain, I’ve started seeing some comments saying that via the same logic that the female penis relies upon, maybe “trans women” should really be “cis” too! Because they’ve “always been women!!1!1!1!” and yes, now the terms “MtF” and “transition” are said to be offensive because “it’s not a journey we’ve always been women!! I mean female!!1!”

    Ahem. But yes, it’s language. Problem is people can appropriate as much as they want and as hard as they can but it’s fluid on both sides. They take one word, we find another one, because what they can’t do is change people’s actual thoughts on the distinction, that a distinction exists. They can’t do it, and it enrages them.

    Mind, I’m not saying that appropriating language is a GOOD thing or that they should be doing it, and it certainly causes problems when it’s making people read existing language in a different light. But, it doesn’t actually achieve their goal, which is why the terms are always changing, because no matter how they tart it up, they’re not let in. Call me “cis?” Okay. Now “cis” is the cool kids “real women”, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, you still aren’t me and you still are not part of my circle. Etc.

    • GallusMag Says:

      RIGHT??? “Cis” = female. According to transactivism, what is a cis-woman? A female. An othering, dehumanizing term for females. It is used as a substitute for “female” in trans writings, because females don’t exist when you are a man pretending to be one.
      No one really is buying this crap are they? Even some trans are catching on that the overtly delusional platform is hurting them more than helping them. It’s so important that we all speak out at every opportunity and push back against the anti-female absurdity of the trans lobby.

      • RoseVerbena Says:

        I think we need to start by picking one or two “softer” targets and raising holy hell until those targets fall our way, and then build from there. They’re obviously obsessed and it will take a concerted effort to start pushing back the insidious inroads they’ve been making towards erasing women. It appears that academia is completely fucked right now; I don’t see that as a fruitful place to focus energy.

        I’m thinking we need to formulate a strategy to start changing anti-discrimination laws one state at a time to institute/re-institute sex-based protections that completely eliminate any reference to “gender” or “gender identity”. We know that “gender identity” is a snark, a delusion, let’s get that out of our laws now, before it’s too late.

        Secondly, focusing on eliminating coverage for “identity” base sex-change operations — make them 100% voluntary and cosmetic, not “medically necessary” — would be another fruitful place to fight back. Let’s get it on record throughout the medical insurance system that wanting to be “a real girl” is NOT a medical necessity, it’s no more medically necessary than wanting vampire fangs or elf ears or size GGG breasts.

        A third option would be forcing the hand of the medical and surgical societies through their ethics committees — making them go on-record that “identity” based sex-change operations/puberty blockers/artificial hormones are unethical when provided to minor children and 100% voluntary in adults.

        We need to start fighting back, HARD, in a concerted way — or they will erase everything we’ve fought for over the past thirty years or more.

    • Adrian Says:

      @RoseVerbena – This has me wondering just what the current status of “sex” and “gender” (as words) in the various discrimination laws on the books are now.

      It seems to me that part of the “refocus discrimination laws on sexual discrimination/sexism” would be to say that a person’s sex should not be used to require any specific gendered behaviors or gendered expressions. Meaning, if a man wants to wear the skirt version of the uniform to work, he can, and meanwhile a woman employee is free to wear the pants, and the number of earrings permitted would not vary by sex. That sort of thing. Admittedly it’s not the most pressing issue in the fight against oppression but it does start to chip away at this insidious idea that if you want to engage in certain culturally constructed gender expression, you need to have the genitalia (or some facsimile thereof) to match it.

      If a guy shows up at work in a dress, he should not be fired for it if women are allowed to wear dresses to work. People should not be fired for being “too feminine” or “too masculine.” That’s freedom, and when the “please help us fight discrimination” was about that, plenty of people were fine with it and on board. But he shouldn’t have to claim to be a woman or have some medical condition to be allowed to do it. As you put it, there should not NEED to be any references whatsoever to “gender identity” in any laws that protect people’s rights to have the same behavior rules on them regardless of their sex.


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