December 12, 2012
Fascinating essay by Hampshire College professors Alan Goodman and Margaret Cerullo explaining how women use gender to oppress men. No, really! Cerullo was quoted in the article they reference stating that she had not even read memoirist Christine Benvenuto’s book, yet she was calling for it to be banned, as she feared it might hurt men’s feelings!
As part of the Hampshire College book-burning campaign Goodman and Cerullo explain here how women are socially dominant over men, and oppress men by critiquing sex-roles.
Also, women who refer to their ex-husband’s behavior as “creepy” or “ugly” or “greasy” are committing hate speech and their writing should be censored and banned.
Is there something funny in the water at Hampshire College? Or perhaps a time machine casting women back into the dark ages? And look how they throw the little “feminism” thing onto the end! Read professor Goodman and Cerullo’s Daily Hampshire Gazette editorial and judge for yourself. Enjoy!
Alan Goodman & Margaret Cerullo: Coverage invites transgender phobia
By ALAN H. GOODMAN and MARGARET CERULLO
Monday, December 10, 2012
AMHERST — The Gazette’s Dec. 8 front-page story titled “Pain of sex change” explores a memoir written by a local author who describes the pain of watching her former spouse undergo a sex change. By posting a large color photo of the author, the Gazette suggests that the “pain” to be explored is the author’s alone.
The Gazette leaves the reader without much insight into the reality of the former spouse who clearly underwent a brave, painful and now public transition in the Valley where she and her children also reside.
Lines from the book “Sex Changes,” by Christine Benvenuto, convey moments of compassion for “Tracey” her former spouse, now a trans-gender woman. Yet there are many instances in which the memoir drips with disrespect and prejudice. Although Tracey transitioned to female over eight years ago, the memoirist refers to her to as “he.” Benvenuto writes, “There is something slightly creepy and more than slightly sad about a man in women’s clothes.” She peppers the memoir with descriptions of Tracey as “creepy, greasy, disgusting, and ugly.”
The Gazette never poses the question: What counts for hate speech? Benvenuto maintains that her memoir is simply “her story about a painful divorce” —not about trans people.
Yet the memoir’s title and the Gazette’s headline focus on Tracey’s transition about sex change. Had the memoir been about a marriage coming undone in a more banal way (infidelity, domestic abuse, alcoholism, falling out of love), the book’s title and anticipated content wouldn’t be much of a sensationalist draw.
Moreover, the author trivializes critiques of her depiction of Tracey as “politically correct.” During the Reagan-Bush years, politicians and pundits deployed the patronizing trope of “P.C.” to discredit nearly any critique of racism or sexism. Might it not be put to rest in 2012?
Consider a white author describing an African-American former spouse as, “creepy, dark, and disgusting to behold,” specifically because they were African-American.
What if a heterosexual author described a spouse who came out as gay as a source of “creepy” revulsion — again, due to their sexual orientation? Today, we would regard such texts as racist and homophobic. Must we wait 20 years to see Benvenuto’s depiction as transphobic?
Can a member of a dominant group (straight, white, cis-gendered) write off the political implications of their own hateful language as being merely “personal” — particularly when they insert this language into the public domain in the form of a memoir or media interviews?
Being transgender is neither a mid-life crisis (as described in the book), nor a mental illness, nor a choice for those who feel life unlivable in what feels to be the wrong gender.
Children of trans people, and society in general, deserve stories in which authors present their pain and anger about family members’ transitions in ways that convey respect and compassion for the people they write about.
The stakes are high. In addition to facing rejection from family and community, 95 percent of transgender people report harassment on the job and in public generally.
Moreover, everyday instances of exclusion translate into exponentially high rates of exposure to violence, depression, murder, and suicide. For many trans women, passing as female by changing dress, voice, hair and skin are central to protecting their own mental health and physical safety.
If trans women like Tracey cannot “pass” by wearing “women’s clothing” (found creepy and sad by the author) they are at risk of becoming a target of verbal, physical and sexual assault.
We do not question the rights of individuals to tell their painful personal narratives about what happens when a family member is transgender.
But as feminists taught us since the 1960s, often, the personal is political. Personal hate, when made so public, is hate speech.
Alan H. Goodman is a professor of anthropology at Hampshire College, where Margaret Cerullo is a professor of sociology. In addition to its authors, this commentary was endorsed by Chaia Heller, Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, Mount Holyoke College; Jamie Theophilos, Mount Holyoke College Class of 2013; Abby Marsh, Hampshire College Class of 2015; Kaeleigh Terrill, University of Massachusetts Amherst Class of 2013; Parks Dunlap, Smith College Class of 2013; Debra Bercuvitz; Kris Thomson; Rabbi Raquel S. Kosovske and Rabbi David Seidenberg.
December 6, 2012
This is a follow-up to THIS post.
A book reading by Christine Benvenuto, from her memoir “Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On” was disrupted by transgender activists who took issue with the author’s right to share her experiences as the wife of a transgendering partner. Although her ex-husband is never identified in her memoir he has since been publicly identified as Yeshiva University professor Jay, now “Joy” Ladin. Ladin, who notified the Orthodox Jewish university of his intention to adopt a “female” persona 48 hours after being granted tenure at the institution, himself published a memoir this year called “Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders”. Ladin has referred to his transgenderism as his own “private concentration camp“. Ladin’s friends were reportedly among the activists who disrupted the reading, shouting obscenities and threatening violence until police were summoned.
One of the activists was Hampshire College “Queer Studies” professor Margaret Cerullo. From today’s Amherst Bulletin:
“While Benvenuto says her story can help families in which a member has gender issues, not everyone agrees. It has sparked a local protest which included Margaret Cerullo, a Hampshire College professor of sociology, who admits she hasn’t read the book, but nevertheless calls it hurtful, containing negative stereotypes about transgender people based on excerpts she read online. “These kind of portrayals are very damaging, especially for young trans people, who are already struggling with self-image … it seemed unnecessarily cruel,” she said in a phone interview.
“Last month Cerullo, a group of Hampshire students and others — including friends of Benvenuto’s ex-husband — showed up at Benvenuto’s reading at Amherst Books to voice their objections, an episode that ended with police being called. Cerullo said the group was attempting to have “a dialogue” with Benvenuto. Benvenuto, however, said the protesters shouted obscenities, even though children were present at the bookstore, and seemed to be seeking “a violent encounter.”
Benvenuto has also left the Jewish Community of Amherst Synagogue that she and her children have attended for years due to lack of support from some members.
From the same article:
“[Benvenuto] was also disturbed by what she calls “an anti-feminist element” among some people, primarily women, whose attitude appeared to be “we’re going to support your husband — you’re the wife and you’ve got to shut up and back him and sacrifice, and if your kids aren’t on board with this, get them on board.”
Read more from today’s Amherst Bulletin article here:
You can support Benvenuto’s right to free speech by purchasing her book here:
Makes a nice Holiday gift!
[bolding by me- GM]